“What have you got for lunch today?” My new friend- at my new school and on my first day of the 4th Standard- enquired, clearly intoxicated by the paneer butter masala that lay under my neatly folded napkin and my water bottle, deep down and secured in my lunch bag, somehow still managing to exude an aroma that tantalising. Being a somewhat shy person, I was hesitant to even really talk to her. But, I told her anyway.
She dug into it, like an animal after a harsh winter. After she was done, two things had become very clear. One-this girl was a hog, and two- I didn’t really like her.
And sure enough, eleven years, five hundred fights, a thousand sleepovers, a million pizza parties, and about one road trip to Lonavla- heavily inspired by the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara, she remains a hog till date, and I still don’t like her.
No, but honestly, we don’t even realise how much we use sharing of food as a weapon- a secret weapon, might I add. Want to be in your parents’ good books to get that X-Box that you and your brother want really, really bad? You put on a show.
Starring- The Perfect Siblings.
“Oh, sure brother, I’ll help you with your Math homework!”
“Oh! Of course, I won’t create a racket and call you stupid when you practice Bharatnatyam, while squatting like an ugly duck!”
And then, we reach the climax of our film- the last piece of tandoori chicken, and both you and your brother reach for it. Your mom arches her eyebrows and your dad looks on suspiciously. You know they’re judging you, and everything is in slow motion now. The two of you, are in an intense stare-off, none of you is ready to back down. You’re sweating, weighing your choices and you see your brother doing the same. Alas, you decide that the X-box is more important, and that the chicken can wait! You let it go.
Feigning enthusiasm you say to him, “Here you go!”
Your brother hesitates, and insists you take it. In order to appear nicer you urge him further, and without the blink of an eye- he obliges. You clench your jaw, but remind yourself the purpose behind this sacrifice. All’s not in vain though, as your parents look mighty satisfied. The film is a success. We’ve reached the 100 crore mark!
What’s the best peace offering after a tough day at the office-literally? You ask your mom to make her famous aloo parathe- that your friends at work are in love with. Then, come next afternoon, during lunch you announce it out loud. All the hostility shall melt and like wand work, all of the food shall have disappeared. But that’s okay, because your friend Raman has got Idli- Sambar for lunch.
Can you really imagine how many cafes and bakeries lining your college campus will go out of business, if the students-generally the Science folks- stopped travelling in packs and splitting all bills? Since-logically- no sane junior college/ undergraduate student will spend Rs 450- out of the average Rs 1000, he gets to spend for the week- for coffee. No one except,of course, Mr Richie with all his riches. That’s when splitting of bills- and therefore sharing of food- comes real, real useful.
Want to talk about family parties? Goodness me! My cousin Apoorva and I, have this unsaid agreement- every time someone’s made something that we absolutely detest, in order to appear nice we shall barter that particular item to each other. It’s a foolproof idea, since we don’t always like similar foods. The only time this plan failed was at my grandmother’s dinner party back in 2009, when we both just couldn’t handle the stuffed capsicum, and were berated upon being caught for trying to load all of it back into the vessel- by none other than my grandmother, herself. There’s an awkward dessert story I’ll tell my grandkids!
You know how you and your sister sit in front of the couch and fight over the remote, the popcorn and call each other names- the profanity of which ranges from one age group to another? Well, savour these moments. Because, twenty years down the line, when you have kids of your own, and you see their similar antics, you’ll smile and reminisce asking
yourself, just where did the time go? You’ll pick the phone up to call your sister, and put it down almost immediately as you’ll hear two very flustered voices calling you for mediation.