Oh I could go on and on and on about this! My issues with food are legendary. Everyone who is even distantly related to me has heard horrifying stories of my struggle with food. Right at the onset, let me clarify this- I am not the only child in the family who was difficult when it came to food. I have at least three other cousins who are just as bad or worse.
I wasn’t a fussy kid. I didn’t prefer this over that. I simply preferred not to eat!! Not only did I choose to never eat I also choose to spend endless hours not eating! The average time required to eat a simple meal would be about 45 minutes or more. So the family would sit for a meal. Everyone would finish. The table would be cleared and the kitchen cleaned up and I would still be on my first chapatti Actually I didn’t eat two chapattis till class 8 or 9. There even came a time when my parents got so fed up of waiting for me to finish my meal that they would simply leave me at the table and retire upstairs. They would intermittently call out to me and ask if I had finished eating. For the first 30 minutes after they had left me on my own devices, the answer to that question would have been “no”. After about 30 minutes, I had two set strategies and would apply one of them. Either I would put the food in the fridge telling myself I will eat it the next day (which never ever happened) or I would chuck it in the dustbin and throw some more garbage on top of it to cover up the food and avoid getting caught.
Tiffin given for school would mostly come back partially eaten. In case it was fully eaten , it was so because a friend helped me out with it. I don’t remember eating my tiffin, fully ever. And it was not that my mum (or dad for that matter; who was a regular contributor to the morning rush hour chores and would very often make my tiffin for me. Everything he made was generally ok except for his chicken sandwiches. They were terrible!! And he always put less salt in the food no matter what he cooked!) was a bad cook. All my friends loved my tiffin. But for me the two small sandwiches were a struggle.
Breakfast was also a problem. I was so slow that I would never be able to finish in time. Not wanting me to go hungry my parents would roll up the paratha or sandwich the bread and omelette so that I could eat it on my way to the bus stop. But what did I do with my mobile breakfast? I would chuck it behind some bush growing on one of the numerous empty plots of land that DLF used to have back then! Dad even caught me doing that once or twice.
As bad as my eating habits were, I got straightened out in the hostel. Really straightened out. There were zero options in the hostel. You ate what you go served. End of matter. Living in a Delhi University Hostel has its disadvantages. All the cooks are government employees so they don’t care what is cooked or how the it tastes after it has been cooked. They need to put four dishes on the table and they do just that. The rotis were always dusty with dry atta. The rice lumpy and/or gooey. The dals were indistinguishable. (We called them yellow dal and black dal). The veggies were generally better than the rest of the meal but we hardly even got vegetables like beans and bhindi because they were just too much effort to prepare. The sweet dish wasn’t worth fighting over so I regularly gave my share away to friends. Chicken was made occasionally and each time it was prepared there was a mad rush to reach the Mess well before time so that we could lay our hands on the best pieces. The number of pieces one got was fixed but you could help yourself to more curry if you liked (yeah! That’s exactly what I liked. Have surplus curry and one measly piece of chicken! That’s what chicken curry is all about, isn’t it?!). Each plate had a bowl with one piece of chicken in it. So people who came to the Mess earlier would choose the nicer piece and exchange the bowl in their plate with one in the other plate. This way, each person who came to eat would replace her bowl with the nearest-better-chicken piece-bowl! Resultantly the last persons to come for dinner would get the yucky rubbery pieces!
As grand as our meals were in the hostel, we frequently turned to Maggi soup and noodles for help! They were the cheapest and quickest, though not the healthiest means of filling our tummies! Evenings would see us marching to Bengali Market to pick up essentials like biscuits, chips, and other pre-cooked packaged food – all in preparation of the mid-night dinner.
Three months in the hostel and I was reformed. Suddenly home food was the best-est food in the world! When I went back home for a vacation, my mom was zapped! I had stopped asking “what’s for lunch/dinner”. I ate whatever was served and in decent proportions. The stay in the hostel was the miracle my parents had been hoping for!
PS: Sorry for all the trouble mom-dad! I just hope I don’t rot in hell for this!
8.2.08-Note to self: Now that i read this post some 6 months after i wrote it, I am sure I could have done a better job of it. Though it gets the basic point across, it doesn’t read too well. But I don’t think I want to spend time re-writing it so just bear with me on this one. Come to think of it, there may be may such posts that sounded ok when I wrote them out, but now seem pretty shoddy. There is no way I am going to re-do/modify all of them. So have a heart and overlook the flaws committed by some one who is essentially a non-writer. 🙂