Monday, November 02, 2009

Who moved my chicken again??

Part 1: Here
Part 2: It so happened that the office had organized a fall potluck. In case your wondering eyebrows are arched as to what I am still doing in office, let me explain. My boss agreed that I get to stay as long as this project I was working on is active, and then basically they show me the bye bye flag. So as of today, I am still going to office and praying that the project takes forever to complete.

As a part of the office team, I was expected to contribute to the potluck. On a side not, I couldn’t hate anything more than an American potluck in our office. First, most people bring the kind of meat that I wouldn’t even touch- beef, pork, ham, turkey. It’s not religious, it’s just a psychological thing that I have not been able to bring myself to eat any kind of meat I did not eat as a kid. And then, I am still not used to eat salad, cheese, tortilla chips and dip for a main meal like lunch. Needless to say, in most office potlucks, I end up eating what I have cooked myself.

So this time they asked me to make something Indian. Something spicy and flavorful, just like the restaurants here, they told me. I didn’t have much time, hence decided to make the simple “murgir jhol” that’s such an integral part of a Bengali lunch on a lazy Sunday. It’s basically the yellow curried chicken that takes minimum effort to make, marinating chicken in yoghurt, frying onions, tomato, ginger and garlic, and then throwing everything in and cooking it together.

It was an instant hit. Everyone hogged in it, shedding tears, thanks to the great spice tolerance. It so happened that I got 2 boxes full of the curry, not knowing how many people I was cooking for. At the end of it, they had emptied one box, and the other one, or rather, 50% of the chicken was still there.

My colleague remarked again and again how wonderful the curry tasted and how her husband and the entire family loved Indian food. Though I was planning to hog on my chicken for the next week, my Indian values intervened and I offered that she take some chicken from Box 2 for her family. Readers, “some chicken” was the operative word here.

I worked till late and on my way back, entered the office kitchen to pick up my dabba. No prizes for guessing why I am writing about it. My dabba was gone. My 7 days of chicken ration was gone.

I was bewildered. My emotions ranged from confusion to anger to hurt. I could not imagine looting the whole dabba when offered “some chicken”. It seemed my fault that I had asked her to take some, instead of me sizing out her portion. I mean I could not make heads and tails out of it, as to why someone would leave no trace of almost 1.5 kg chicken. It’s not that she was known as the glutton officemate. If anything, she was quite middle aged, had a family of kids, and one would consider mother-like people did mother-like things. I remember those numerous occasions from childhood when I was taught not to pick up more than one toffee, 2 biscuits, or one gulab jamun when offered a plateful. I guess it’s the way we are brought up, taught how not to behave like a greedy glutton, live in misery, and not eye those rasgullas that look back at you all tempting and juicy. You would be left salivating like Pavlov’s dog all evening eyeing the goodies, but will not dare to touch those just because mom taught you self-restraint even if you were dying to sprint on the food. And now, all I felt was confusion.

She returned to me my dabba all cleaned up ad washed, with a thank you note. She later told me that her family had loved the chicken. I just wondered what did she do with chicken for at least 15 people.

It’s amazing how we grow up with certain values as a part of our culture. It doesn’t mean the other person who doesn’t share our values is bad. It just means the other person is different from us, and doesn’t identify with our culture. I wonder why we are brought up to live in misery and hunger and not succumb to the demands of the senses, apologize and compromise and learn to be satisfied with whatever comes in our share. My colleague I am sure would have been totally oblivious to my thoughts and confusion, and I know she did not mean harm. But it’s just that what she did was so different from what she would be expected to do.

If only the boss had vanished the chicken and had reconsidered his decision about my bye bye letter after he had it.



Nikhil Garg said...

If your chicken is so good , well , then yes , come on- let out your recipe !

Pavi!!!! said...

oh ih :(

but wooow!ur back to work! im glad...its best to take baby steps...n far so good. lets see what the story is when the project gets over?!

The Wandering Minstrel said...

amazed that ur still wondering why indians are brought up to live frugally...we are primarily a joint family system and nobody can afford to be a hog...and when u give in to your senses, u give in to more than just hunger...u give in to things that can be very problematic.
i am glad we are raised the way we are.
by the way, we are also taught to forgive...ur right, she is different and that is the biggest thing living outside teaches know that difference and to accept it too...because we are raised that way again :) makes us easy to be with and live with :)

SurAj said...

don't you worry that your colleague/people you complain about -- will end up reading the blog ? :)

sunshine said...

Nikhil- huh? Trade secrets are not let out that easily :)

Pavi- You are right, we will see :)

The Wandering Minstrel- It's interesting to note these associations and differences that one would not see otherwise. No one is right or wrong, it's just that we are so different :)

Suraj- Well, I don't take names and I try to be anonymous, so unless someone with wrong intentions get in the way and don't respect the writer's wish to anonymity, things should be fine hopefully :)