Tag Archives: North India

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.

Murder of English

These days, especially in North India (no offense meant), people have a tendency to abuse and murder English. Reading facebook posts always puts me in throes of revulsion. Also, I am not even talking about accent (which is pardonable) or pronunciation yet. These are purely grammar and punctuation errors. This is surprising because English is one of the easiest languages to learn and with the simplest grammatical rules.
It’s more infuriating because most people these days consider it fashionable to use English for conversation within their family, instead of their native language.
I know that English is not our “National” language, but is still very important in today’s age, considering that almost everyone works for a foreign company. If you don’t like English, at least make an effort to correct yourself, failing which just write in any other language.
Following are the predominant mistakes made by people these days. I have included some examples from Facebook.
1. People are misers when it comes to using uppercase at proper places. People don’t start their sentences with capitals. Even worse is when they don’t write their names starting with Capitals. If you can’t write your name properly, you can’t write anything else.

2. When it comes to punctuation marks, the same people are very generous and use them liberally. It is very common to see sentences ending with multiple full stops (I am so sad……) or multiple exclamations (I am so happy!!!!!) or the combination of different punctuation marks (I am so drunk!!! Hell yeah !!!@!@@). People also use incorrect punctuation, as seen in the example above. Here’s another example

This is very surprising, considering that this guy had an affair with our office English coach. I guess they didn’t talk much.
Although, there are some people who don’t use punctuation much and merge several sentences into one.

3. People also make a lot of spelling mistakes, even for simple words. It’s like they don’t even make an effort.

4. People use incorrect grammar. This is the most common and widespread problem among people today.  Its as if they were all sleeping in class for years when the English teacher was working hard to teach us, or that they didn’t want to learn at all. Sometimes the sentences don’t make any sense at all. This is the worst example of English I could find, with examples of all of the above. I didn’t even erase the name

I attribute this degradation due to the following factors

  1. People don’t consider learning English an important thing to do. They somehow pass the exams and then forget about it during higher studies.
  2. Most English teachers in this country are English-illiterate themselves. I was lucky enough to have come across very good English teachers for most of my education timeframe.
  3. People don’t read/write much. Most people in North India (no offense meant) act surprised to know that people actually pay to read novels. One of the most common sentences I hear is “Padhai ki kitaabe kam hai jo aur kitabe khareed li?” (“Don’t we have enough study books that you got some more?”)
  4. The “hip-hop” culture has caused the worst damage to people. It teaches people to deliberately mis-spell and mis-pronounce words. Apparently emulating how black Americans speak (no offence to the black)  is considered cool.
  5. People also suffer from the lack of will to take criticism constructively. Such “correctors” are scoffed at and termed “Angrez” (“Englishman”).