Touch of culture

I believe that eating efficiency lies in cent per cent capacity utilisation.

It is not that I was a total stranger to Bangalore. I had visited the city off and on during my stint in the Indian Air Force when I would come to the city on temporary duty but living in the officers’ messes, one never got in touch with cultural context of Bangalore or for that matter of any city.

It was a very strong magnetic force from a southerner, the details of which cannot be put in the public domain that the northerner quit the services and joined the corporate life in Bangalore and learnt a few cultural things.

I was reviewing a confidential report submitted by a general manager on his manager.

The report was full of praise for the manager and ended with this statement: ‘Above all, this manager has no habits.’ Not being use to the local idiom, I kept wondering how a person can be without any habits. Curiosity got the better of me and asked the GM what he meant by having no habits. The clarification came when he explained that the manager was a clean man and did not drink or smoke. I was stumped and advised him that in that case, he should probably seek a change of department because I had all the habits like having rum and coke in the evening and puffing once in a while. To add mirch masala, I even added a fictional footnote to say that I had even mastered the art of winking at my CO’s wife without being discovered by anyone.

Over lunch in the canteen, I heard for the first time the phrase one-by-two or two-by-three coffee and thought that back home, it will probably be four-by-two and also discovered that dosas are made out rice flour and not besan ( gram flour) like they did in Rakh bagh eatery in Ludhiana.

Invited for lunch by a family friend of the significant half, I walked straight into the drawing room with my shoes on to be reprimanded through whispers. After all, up north, it was quite common to walk into your friend’s home, shout at the top of your voice, and lie down on the bed with shoes on as long as the shoes made no contact with the linen.

Over lunch, as was my habit from the childhood, I started tearing the rotis with both hands as one would tear pink slips received from the Ed for rejected submission. And I also used both hands to serve myself another helping. It was then I observed that while the cook was serving others rotis gently and with respect, he would drop mine from top lest he made an unholy indirect contact with this jhootha man from north. I also observed that others would rest their left hand on their lap and would only use that hand for the subsequent servings. Nothing has convinced me to change my habit for I believe that the eating efficiency lies in cent per cent capacity utilisation.

The thing I liked most about the city was no one ever said look at these panjabis unlike up north, all Indians from south are called madrasis being ignorant that each state had its own cultural/ language sub text. Bangalore, any day, is my choice.

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