Tag Archives: Chandigarh

The North Indian phobia of “Outside Food”

Having stayed in North India for most of my life, I have noticed a peculiar phobia of North Indians. It is towards “outside food” or as they call it “Bahar ka khana”. I have also stayed in West, Central and East India & noticed this only in North India. Basically, most North Indians are extremely averse to eating restaurant food. Going out to eat or ordering food from outside is seen as a failure of the wife or mother in the family.

A Restaurant, PC:cap3000.com

The first time I remember noticing this was when we had just moved to Chandigarh. We were invited to the home of one of my father’s colleagues for tea. When it was time to go, we excused ourselves by saying we have to go out for dinner to some restaurant. A look of disappointment dawned on their faces, immediately followed by a look of pity. They all looked at my mother and asked her why we “have to” eat out. We just told them that we always ate out on Sundays. They never respected my mother again, a useless wife/mother who won’t even cook for her family on weekends.

Over the years, I started noticing this phobia towards “outside food” more and more. When I would go out to eat with my friends, their parents would look down on me as if I am corrupting them. They would even ask me if “I didn’t get any food at home”. I also noticed that most of my friends never went out to eat with their families, even on special occasions.

I would notice this peculiarity even more when I went to Kolkata during my summer holidays. Everyone ate out all the time. Even my poorest relatives living in small towns went out to eat regularly. During major festivals, people there eat out all day and night. In North India, it just means that the wife/mother has to work extra hard to cook special food at home during festivals.

After my graduation, when I was working in Kolkata, me and my colleagues would order lunch everyday. No one brought food from home. When I moved back to Gurgaon, I noticed that almost everyone bought food from home. Mothers/wives are expected to wake up early every morning to cook lunch tiffins for their kids/husbands before they left for school/work, come rain or shine. When I ordered food, colleagues would be tempted to eat it, but would also be afraid to take their food back home uneaten. Sometimes they ate the “outside food” with me and then also had to finish their lunch.

During the lockdown, ordering food from outside though not illegal, was frowned upon. People always stared at me with disgust while I carried food from the society gate. Can his wife not cook?

In Bangkok, everyone goes out to eat during lunch, except some Indians (mostly North Indians). They all cook their own food in the morning and bring to work with them. During lunch, they go sit in the parking lot and eat that food as our office doesn’t have a designated place to have lunch.

I am not quite sure where all this stems from. Most people I have asked think restaurant food is unhygienic (sure, if you eat roadside food). Most just consider eating at home the normal thing to do and eating out an anomaly. Maybe some of it comes from the looming patriarchy in North Indian culture where a woman’s primary role is to cook and clean. Also, why spend money eating out?

On a positive note, in spite (or because of) all this, North Indians are some of the warmest people I have met who always invite you to sit with them and have a (home cooked, of course) meal. I do appreciate home cooked meals, but I also want a fancy meal at restaurants every now and then.

Road Trip

This weekend, I did what I wanted to do since many years. I wen to Chandigarh by bike, alone. Had slept very late friday night (in fact Saturday morning), still woke up at 8 to beat the early morning traffic. Wasn’t feeling very well(was suffering from cold and allergy) so went to the neighbourhood doctor who jabbed a syringe full of some medicine in me and I was up and running in half an hour. Left at around 9 in the morning and was out of Delhi in under an hour. Let the throttle open and did a constant 80-90 kmph till Karnal for 2 hours where I stopped for some coffee and Kathi Roll and to stretch my legs and wash my face. Reached Chandigarh around 2 in the afternoon and hung out with friends and boozed after many years. Slept like a log till next morning and after roaming around a bit more, left around 4 in the afternoon and once again, stopping only once at karnal for 15 minutes. The bike performed admirably even when I didn’t rest it for hours and didn’t drop my speed below 80. Reached gurgaon at around 9 at night. Waking up in the morning today, it all seems a dream but my aching back and neck are proof all that happened.

My punishment..

This evening was pretty depressing. And I blame it all on google earth. Was just browsing over the planet when I came upon Chandigarh. Zoomed in pretty close and seeing the old roads and familiar structures brought back fond memories of those good ol’ days. I still remember how Bhavesh and I cursed the city before I left for engineering and he left for law studies. We were on his bike going from his home to mine at night and cursing and shouting through the streets. Now I am having to pay the price of my foolhardiness. Soon my parents shifted over to Calcutta. I can frankly say that if Chandigarh was 10, Calcutta is pretty close to 0. I had the best days of my life in that city. I can never forget that first year in college(Class XI) when I used to bunk with Vishal. Then came Iota, Aaron and Atul. Atul has been my friend in my dire times and is one of the best and most genuine guys I know. Had some pretty memorable moments with him. Remember the time you joined our S.U.P.W. class of Industrial Chemistry even though your subject was something else? We got fined by the police for not wearing a helmet while coming back from visiting your cousin. Also miss those days when me, Divyadeep, Siddharth used to bunk tuition classes to go to Barista in Ebony every single evening and used to hit on the chewing gum chick. It hurts to think that those days are never coming back. And lastly, the most memorable times are the one I spent with you, Bhavesh. It was Atul who first introduced us. Remember when we first came to your place for Whistler? You also had Windows XP Plus! installed and used to play bowling on your optical mouse. You also had the Acer cd writer in which you wrote me an Audio CD. I still have that mind you. The countless times you came and rescued me from my place and we roamed about town together spending money like water. I remember I once went with you to some coaching classes where you went to enquire about Redhat classes. You were already an MCSE and CCNA then and that particular day when the institute guys looked up to you with respect when I decided to do something about my computer skills other than playing games and downloading gigs of data.Also, the time we met in VIBGYOR and the time you made a prank call at my home saying that you are from cyber crime division of Police. I can go on listing more such special momets but that will overload the server. I don’t mind that you broke the us.mpeg cd. You can go on breaking as many cds you want and I will mail you more. You are still my friendly wash after all. I also miss your parents and MYLO. Your mom made great AMLA juice(I don’t say it tasted great but it still was GREAT). Also I wish I had got to know your dad better as he is the coolest. It’s a pity that we don’t buy the same mobile phones like before anymore. Maybe we can after(if) I get a job. I would readily give up my Enfield for that trustworthy boxer we rode together for so many kilometres. We kept it up to date with regular(read: daily) oil changes. Also that time was funny when that drunk guy backed into the bike outside HM-vatika.
I have made countless plans of visiting Chandigarh in the past few years but each time something comes up and I have to cancel the plan. It’s a way of punishing me for abusing the greatest city I have ever lived in. Life is shit and barely worth living in this shithole.. Please forgive me so that I can spend more time there…
 

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