Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From ‘Short Takes, Long Memories’ by Sharmila Kamat and Prabhakar Kamat

Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.

Keeping the front door of your home closed and bolted during the day was a no-no, bordering on impropriety. To do so signaled that you did not trust your neighbours and lacked faith in your community.

Being the preferred setting for social meet ‘n’ greets, the cafeterias adhered to the rules of engagement as decreed by Goan society. A customer was not just a client, he (and it was usually he, women rarely went to the eating-houses) was a Hindu, Christian or Muslim as well. The food served was the same. The service provided uniformly solicitous. The cutlery, however, changed as per the religious persuasion.
The man entering the teahouse…..The owner and his little army of servers were adept at figuring out their customer’s religious affiliation with a mere glance….
Even before the client was seated, the waiter stationed at the entrance would call out, ‘Ek safed’ if he was a Hindu, ‘Ek fancy’ if Christian or ‘Ek fulawar’ if Muslim ….In all the years that I ate at the cafeterias, the waiters rarely, if ever, got the appellations wrong.
At the back of these establishments ……would be three separate piles of cups, saucers and dishes, for use by the three different communities….
In the event that they ran out of ‘fancy’, the next Christian walking in had to wait awhile, till one of the co-religionists finished his meal. The proprietor would not dream of fobbing off a ‘fancy’ with savouries from a ‘fulawar’ plate …….

Some things never change – like the Goan’s love for fish. In Goa, no meal is complete without the mandatory hooman and rice. ….Besides fish, we ate a variety of meats – goat, rabbit and birds – all of which were classified under that all-encompassing name – mutton. Most Hindus avoided pork or chicken. Beef, of course, was taboo.

K is for Kenghis Khan. He was a very nice person. History has no record of him. There is a moral in that, somewhere.

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.
-          ABBA EBAN

The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.

Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?
-          LEWIS CARROLL

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