Dear Raunak: Learning to be Independent

(Picture: Your grand mothers vying to feed you)

Today I started teaching you to eat the Indian way -- sitting on the floor and eating with your right hand. 5 minutes into the lesson, I realized it is way too difficult than what I initially thought it would be. First, you are a pampered spoilt brat. You should have learnt to eat on your own by this age (you are 5 btw), but you are used to being fed while you watch cartoons, and I am paying for those sins now. Second, you being left handed didn’t help either. Here is an account of your first class of ‘eating independently’. The more I do things like these, the more I appreciate my mom.

I had to first find a spot that was interesting enough but not distracting. I had a couple of options but decided to stick to the tradition – eat in the kitchen or in the dining area. When I was a kid, we did not have a dining table. The entire family would sit on the floor in the hall after moving the furniture and have our meals. I come from a community that is a little particular about rules, especially eating habits. There are specific places for specific kinds of food and various items need to be served and eaten in a certain order. Since you have mixed blood, your upbringing is different. I will teach you my ways anyway, even though you may not follow them. Nothing wrong in understanding your family better.

Now back to your class. Once I zeroed in on the place, the next step was to teach you the technique. Sit cross legged and keep the plate close to you (but not touching your body). Mix the curry and rice with the tips of your fingers, wrap all 5 finger tips around a morsel of rice and take them up to your mouth. Bend and meet the hand midway to your mouth, bring your hand back to the plate and get the next morsel ready while you chew your food silently and thoroughly. Simple, but apparently not for you.

You first found your fingers getting dirty quite disgusting and kept rubbing them against your shirt and when that got dirty, you used my dress. At every step in the process I explained above, your left hand would rush to rescue the right. Eating with left hand is strictly forbidden and you are a strong left handed boy. I had to hold your left hand down throughout the time. This had some unexpected results. When you realized that your right hand is not as equipped as your left to handle complex tasks, you decided to give your hands some rest and dug your face into the plate and eat directly. Obviously, your face was a mess and needed to be cleaned. You chose the easy way of shaking it vigorously thus throwing food on everything within 1 meter radius of your head. I had to end the session, give you a bath, clean up the room, wash my clothes as well as yours, and feed you while you watched cartoons.