Monday, December 25, 2006

On travelling Indians, and righteous indigestion

Happiest moment of the Dubai trip: when two vegetarian fellow travellers came within inches of ordering a veal dish (considering previous incidents such as the turbine/turban one, they had probably confused the word with “vegetable”, or thought it was shorthand). I made sure to watch their faces when the waiter explained what veal was, it felt nice. Then, clucking solicitously whenever they happened to catch my eye, I listened to their loud tirades about the “dirty eats” available outside India. Then I ordered a beef steak with pepper sauce.

Sorry if that sounds callous, and of course one doesn’t expect vegetarians (or orthodox Hindus) to try beef/veal just because they are in a foreign country – but by that point in the trip I was so fed up of these people (for other reasons too, not just their attitude towards food) that I sought malicious pleasure in anything that discomfited them. Some of the fussiness and boorishness on display was beyond belief. One keeps hearing horror stories about the insularity of travelling Indians, but this was the first time I was seeing it at such close quarters.

Personally I’m very experimental with food. When I became a feature journalist a few years ago, the restaurant revolution in Delhi was just beginning, we suddenly had access to authentic Lebanese and Italian and Thai and Chinese and continental food outside of 5-star hotels, my job provided a pretext to try new things, and I relished it. And when travelling abroad, as a matter of policy I try as many different dishes as possible – especially the stuff there’s little hope of getting in Delhi. (There was one notable aberration in Glasgow a couple of years ago when, after eight straight days of eating dry continental meals, I developed a near-frenzied craving for spicy daal/curry and hot naan and rushed to the town centre to find an Indian restaurant. Old habits diet hard.)

This doesn’t mean I expect everyone else to be adventurous in their eating habits. The fact is, most people (certainly most Indians) simply don’t like to step outside the comfort zone when it comes to food, and this is understandable to an extent, even if you don’t account for the many religious taboos. If, up to a certain age, you’ve been weaned on a particular cuisine/cooking style, it’s very difficult to break the mould. And if you aren’t professionally associated with food (as a consultant, say, or as a food writer) and if you haven’t travelled much, there’s little opportunity (or reason) to expand your culinary horizons.

But there are degrees and degrees of insularity, and when it reaches the point where you’ve completely closed your mind to any sort of new experience, and in the process made a spectacle of yourself and inconvenienced others…well, that’s problematic.

One example from this trip: just moments after announcing that he’s a hardcore non-vegetarian and extremely hungry, a chap pushed away a plate of pan-fried chicken breast because the dish was “too unfamiliar”. He dismissively ordered the waiters to take the plate away and then gave them (and our tourist guide) sidelong glares as if it were their fault. And we’re not talking oysters or scallops or octopuses or even shrimps or prawns. We’re talking pan-fried chicken breast, which is just about the least exotic non-Indian item you can find on a menu.

“Frankly speaking,” the chap then said, in the tone often employed by people who use that phrase (and “to be honest” and others such) as if they are about to bestow a hitherto undisclosed Indubitable Truth on the world, “nothing can compare with our Indian food. Even people who come to India for the first time from other countries forget about their own food after tasting our home-made cooking.” Our tour guide, to whom these words were being addressed, looked dubious but nodded politely and said he hoped to visit India soon. I wonder if he ever will now.

P.S.: “Our Indian food” was quite the sweeping generalisation coming from these people. Going by the rest of their conversations, they knew very little about the parts of India that are located outside north-west Delhi. (“Bihari people are known as very intayleegent, isn’t it?” one of them said, referring to a Mr Bose he was acquainted with.) And maybe, just maybe, I’m over-analysing and reading too much into eating habits, but I can’t help wondering about the connection between insularity of this sort and narrow-mindedness in other spheres. Fodder for future posts perhaps...

Update: should have mentioned this earlier. Dubai does of course have plenty of eating options for Indians who want to stick with comfort food - in fact there were a couple of highly regarded (and inexpensive) vegetarian Indian restaurants just a stone's throw from our hotel. But our junket-happy journos, for all their complaining, would never actually have gone to one of those places. It would have meant spending their own money (outside meals weren't included in our package) and that would have been a fate worse than starving to death.


  1. Great post Jai. You've mananged to convey my feelings of disgust when people I know judge a place/country/town by the type of food that is available there or the type of food its inhabitants eat.
    I've done my share of eating steak in front of kattar vegetarians. "mmm..You don't know what you're missing".
    Is it still ok to make fun of chinese people for eating dogs and cats?

  2. Very interesting post Jai. Not sure if you've seen this BBC article about Dubai by a Pakistani journalist:

    Vinod Joseph

  3. Cute post. From a vegetarian point of view, its sometimes funny when people react with "Oh, you're a vegetarian! Let me hide my lunch before it offends you!" But I guess this is where it comes from. What you said about intolerance extending to all spheres is so true, its fun to lay bets on people you meet in trains/on planes.

  4. We took out for dinner someone who came to Melb for a conference and when asked her what she would like to order, she proclaimed proudly that she ate "anything that moved", and then later went on to exclude beef, pork, squid, duck, veal.. basically everything except chicken and fish.

  5. Such a good post and so, sadly, true. I've known people who travel with packets of MTR foods just so they don't have to eat *anything* else.

    They miss so much, travel isn't just about places and people. Food and culinary habits are an intrinsic part of that process.

    Indians love carrying their world with them, witness the SOTC variety of tours that highlight and 'Indian' cook and all 'Indian' meals.


  6. Cowlick: yes, I love it when non-veg chauvinism (e.g. Punju guy thumping chest and going "bhai, hum toh pukka massahari hain") quickly gives way to a meek, frightened contemplation of the strange dishes on offer in the non-veg section of the buffet.

    Vinod: thanks for the link. Many of the tour operators/cab drivers expressed similar regret about what Dubai once was and what it's turning into. Lots of ambivalence there amongst people who have been in the city all their lives.

  7. Blr bytes: don't get me started on those SOTC tours. Classic example of tourists getting to maintain the illusion that they're actually experiencing a new country when they're really just in a comfort zone all the way through - from the pick-up for the airport to the drop-back home after the trip.

    Enjay: the vegetarian bit was really incidental to this post. Some of the things Indian vegetarians have to experience in European countries are genuinely sad. But in this case I couldn't muster up much sympathy - especially when there was a perfectly decent Govinda restaurant nearby and they wouldn't go there because it would mean spending their own money.

  8. There's nothing on earth more irritating than food insularity, though I do know people who are very closed-minded about food but generally pretty bindaas about other things. Actually, I've seen a lot of friends who've picked up this insularity from parents who have taught them that any cuisine apart from their own is unhygienic and unclean in some way. A vegetarian friend refuses to have veg Chinese because 'they use garlic'. Her parents refuse to eat ANYTHING other than south-indian food, even unexceptionable northie food like alu-gobhi.

  9. 1)The Karol Bagh thing reminds of myself.In my opinion,the butter chicken in Kailash Colony(GK,delhi) is unique and that taste can be never replicated.But it stops there.I have never tasted anything like it within India and I don't see any chance that some restaurant out of Indian will give the same taste.

    2)The Karol Bagh thing reminded me of something else as well.I was at the Film Festival not so long ago when I over-heard someone ahead of me in the que say,"hindustani pictures ke jo baat hai,woh kisi our cinema main nahi hai."That was after I had seen few of the best movies ever.

    Your post gets me wondering,do we lack the characteristic to accept failure or is that we cannot accept better things?E.g-we hae the best cities,movies,foods,cricket teams,etc.

  10. For a vegetarian like me, trying out meat(I was a non-vegetarian a few years back and have tried out pork, beef, rabbit etc.) is not exactly an "out-of the comfort zone" thing. I have struggled with the lack of vegetarian food in places outside India. India gives space for both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian palate which is not always the case outside. Travelling outside also includes different culinary habits but a lack of choice between veg and non-veg can be quite irksome for many like me.I don't think this makes our behaviour insular.

  11. its high time non-veg eaters made some money and called the shots.
    In Bombay you have buildings and apartments that are sold to only Veg Eaters and only Jains.

    I wish India stood United atleast on this.

  12. E Pradeep: picking on vegetarians (or accusing them of being insular when they don't get veg food) wasn't the idea behind the post at all - as I clarified in the post as well as in one of the subsequent comments.

    (Also see this post from last year.)

    Bombayite: eh?

  13. Well, while I am not in anyway condoning the behaviour of the "vegetarians" who behave as if they have some sort of moral high ground and are superior and get all preachy about being vegetarian, the opposite behaviour of intentionally wolfing down a rare bloody steak just to mock "kattar" vegetarians is also equally condescending. An American might wince when somebody eats a dog or a horse, similarly pure vegeterians can find blood dripping steak or deep fried bulls testicles unappetising. Each person might have their own way of soaking a new culture, culinary habits is a very personal affair and none of anybody else's business. Each individual has to make his peace with what he is "missing out"

  14. Mumbaikar: all very true. The steak I had was medium-rare, by the way - I dislike blood too, unless it's my own. Also, I had it because I wanted to have it, not to mock anyone. (Don't know about Anangbhai's intentions, you'll have to check with him.)

    Abhinav: the whole "we have the best of everything" attitude comes at least partly out of an inferiority complex, I think - especially considering it gets so hysterical at times.

  15. I've been thinking, this isn't particularly unique to Indians, no?

    Witness the proliferation of chain restaurants of the KFC, McD's variety and the beeline foreign tourists make to the nearest one. Not that they'd find anything familiar on the menu, but that's a whole other story...

    I'd like to think that most cultures that have something one can genuinely consider a cuisine (and I'm generalizing here, Kannadiga food is *not* a cuisine nor does vada pav make for a cuisine..) are moderately chauvinistic about it.

    A test, would they seek their own cuisine, in their own city but outside of their homes? If they do, you know they have half decent food. And they'll probably seek it in unfamiliar terrain too...

  16. picking on vegetarians (or accusing them of being insular when they don't get veg food) wasn't the idea behind the post at all
    Point taken.
    Militant vegetarianism and not I renting apartments to meat eaters is a whole another kind of discrimination altogether

  17. Blr bytes: just remembered something I read recently. Pico Iyer, one of the world's best travel writers (and a man whose writing is full of empathy, open-mindedness and interest in different cultures), admitted in an interview that whenever he reaches a new place he makes a beeline for the nearest McDonald's. "I'm not adventurous at all when it comes to my eating habits," he said. Quite intriguing - maybe we ARE reading too much into food choices.

  18. Oh, I miss Dubai. I miss my shawarmas. N my khuboos. N the hummoos. The felafel. I miss all things arabic.

  19. agree completely on the insularity part.
    my friends had an experience similar to veal/vegetable one. They bought a pepperoni pizza thinking pepperoni was pepper..

  20. Jai, I woulda had the steak anyway. But its a whole 'nother level of pleasure to ham it up when someone looks genuinely disgusted, or at least makes a lot of noise in that weird attention drawing way that you describe. Everyone in the room must know how bad steak is for you and how disgusting american food is and you don't even know how people can eat it and so on.

  21. ..and also that this insularity is not limited to Indians. Indians (a majority of them) don't know how to express it politely - and that's a problem.
    Few years back, saw my american friends having hamburgers in heathrow enroute chennai - though they weren't hungry, just because those will be their last for a few weeks atleast - and they hadn't experimented in any way even in Americanized Indian restaurants..
    Americans - by far the most liberal when coming to food experimentation - do it only when the menu is loaded with familiar words and explanations..
    Dosa should be a crisp rice crepe
    Vada should be a close cousin of doughnut
    Paayasam should be rice pudding
    and so on.. what say?

  22. try out monkey-brain . you'll like it.

  23. Giri: I omitted to mention my one kindly deed when it came to the vegetarians. The girl was happily about to order a cheeseburger thinking it would be veg, and I warned her that it probably wouldn't. They were sceptical at first but checked with the waiter and discovered "burger" was a synonym for "beef" in this joint. Order duly withdrawn with much nose-wrinkling and piteous exhalations.

    (see, I'm not all bad!)

    And yes, no reason why insularity would be limited to Indians.

    Anangbhai: true, but I'm probably not as blase as you are. I did feel slightly uncomfortable when the steak appeared, and kept the plate as far away as possible from the nearest veg co-diner.

    Bagchi: about the examples you mention - I have no real problem with those. Everyone should be free to not eat what they don't want to, whether it's garlic or whatever. Point is, they should keep it to themselves and not go about inconveniencing or insulting others in the process.

  24. I smell a wannabe spirit in your writing. Trying to show that you're a learned man now & the norms don't apply to you anymore?..But this one's been employed by wannabes earlier too and I'll bet my bottom athanni that you're an atheist too...Keep it coming. Just make sure you don't lose your mind overdoing it..


  25. Deepak! Like a ferret, your sense of smell is unerring. You've totally figured me out. I am indeed both a wannabe and an atheist. See this post if you haven't already (though I suspect you have). Comment on it too - I'm preparing my annual list of most entertaining comments.

  26. I think the reason why eating dogs is considered horrific or wince-inducing (and I am one of them, as I have a lovable pet dog), is because those are domesticated creatures. Thats why dog and cat meat is a social taboo, for most countries. The only countries where dog-eating is considered OK are Vietnam, Korea and China, and thats because during the famine years, when there was nothing, they had no choice. Even today, its done there by a minority (and that too, because of an urban myth that eating that sort of meat increases virility).

    For other forms of meat, well, most nations of the world which dont have a wide variety of crops, have no choice, do they? What would you eat in a place like Scandinavia? Thats the practical reason, and even morally, arguments against non-vegetarianism are pretty thin.

    People who are insular as tourists about food, would in my imagination, be insular period. Its like a person I know who went to London, walked down Oxford Street, and then kept criticising everything by saying how it was nothing great, things back in Delhi were so much bigger and nicer.

    I m willing to bet that this is the same sort of tourist, who when back in his own country, would keep criticising everything and talk of how things are better in places like London. Pah!

  27. Jab, it is extremely inconveniencing when you want to go out for a meal and a certain person rejects all the choices available just because she will refuse to even try something new. She refused to have pizza till we almost forced her, and she liked it. Has that made her more open to trying other 'new' stuff? No. That's what I mean by irritatingly insular.

    Ok, now I'm just bitching.

  28. Well, Food is a personal preference. And prejudice against certain food items is not something unique to vegetarians, surely.
    I've quite a few N.Indian friends (incidentally non-vegetarians) who have a deep-seated aversion for S.Indian food. The same thing could be said of the 'broad-minded Occidental peoples'.
    Don't you recollect Shane Warne's insistence on baked beans during one of his Indian tours?? Also, the grumblings of the English touring parties during cricket tours...

    Yet, I've noticed this tendency among commentators to conveniently forget all this and selectively pick on Indian vegetarians. Huh.

    Talking abt Aversion and inflexibility, has any libertarian blogger commented on the deep-seated, often manic, hatred for all things religious and traditional among the 'enlightened' athiests?

  29. Jabberwocky-In spite of your disclaimers in your comments, your post comes as mean-spirited and as showing-off.

    And really did you have to think of Pico Iyer to realize that food habbits are not a good measure of insularity ? That seems pretty shallow.

    And yes, I am glad that India has space for both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian, unlike most countries. And too bad that I cannot make even the simplest statements saying something nice about India without appearing to say it "from some kind of inferiority complex", as you put it.

  30. Well, IMHO, insularity can be best measured by a person's reaction to hip-hop and rap music.

    No wait, wrong post :))

  31. Shrikanth: thanks for the comment, but almost everything you've said about the food issue has already been mentioned, either in the post or in the other comments. So I'm not sure where the argument is.

    About your last question: I don't know if I'm a libertarian blogger, but I've made that point about "inflexibility towards all things religious" somewhere.

    Anonymous: A shallow, mean-spirited show-off - yup, that's me alright. Merry Christmas to you also!

  32. Didn't read your post closely first up...
    Agreer on most points...
    Ofcourse you aren't picking on anyone
    One has every right to be fussy and fastidious to whatever degree...But making disparaging remarks and taking the moral high-ground is definitely uncalled for.

  33. Btw, I find no problems with Jains renting out apartments exclusively to vegetarians.

    Yet I've met self-proclaimed libertarians speak out against such alleged 'discrimination'. Isn't that hypocritical?

    True Libertarians would respect an individual's right not to rent out houses to people who don't measure up to his standards (even if those standards seem dubious)

  34. don't worry about it. the world has grown to recognise that people from delhi are all uncouth. no one takes them seriously anymore, so the rest of india isn't slotted into the same category as these folk.

    no harm done :)

  35. About your burger=beef story.. a Muslim friend once ordered a cheese HAMburger in the US and was shocked to find it had, well, ham in it. For her HAMburger=burger where ham was just a apparently a word that meant nothing. Needless to say she was shocked how the food joint had tried to slip a little pork into her burger.

  36. But a HAMburger doesn't necessarily have ham in it!

    That's quite silly, would a Spotted Dick have, ahem, you- know-what in it?

  37. Cowlick: But doesn't the word hamburger come from Hamburg? I didn't think there was really any connection between "ham" and "hamburger" (unless of course the menu specifically lists it as Cheese Ham burger, or Cheese & Ham burger).

    All very confusing...but at any rate, vegetarians should check about these things when they place their orders, instead of setting themselves up to be shocked and offended...

  38. Yup. That's where it comes from. And a long origin dating back to the Mongols and involving horses and saddles.

    I'd kill for one right now...

  39. i grew up in nagaland.... yes yes that neglected, remote, beautiful, godforsaken place on earth... this a favourite childhood story... apparently i came back home one day (all of two) from a visit to a naga family chomping on a bone... my brahmin mother shrieked till the mountains heard... when accompanying naga family (god bless them) told her it was a cow's (sic) not a dog's... he he he... as it turns out i am the least insular where my food habits are concerned... i started young, you see

  40. In a similar vein, I'm always surprised to see intellectuals who condemn, say, reality TV or pulp fiction without actually trying out the experience in full (10 minutes or 10 pages is not the full deal). Many are proud to claim that they've never read [insert_popular_bookname].

    As insular as your co-travellers, but a little more snobbish about it. :)

  41. Nice post. Journo junkets, as I'm assuming that's what you were on, should come with health warnings. Its depressing how soon one wants to start killing ones colleagues and asking yourself Dark Questions about what their behaviour says about the profession you're in.

    I do have some sympathies with vegetarians in countries like Ireland or Scandinavian ones where real veg options are scarce. Its sad to be faced with endless meals of bread and cheese and potatoes while everyone else is revelling in meat.

    But when people anticipate this problem it can be even sadder. My worst experience came on a trip to Ireland where one much anticipated dinner was with the Irish Food Board. I'd been told so much about the glories of grass fed Irish beef, rare cattle varieties, fat to muscle rations, melt in your mouth textures, I was almost drooling when we arrived.... only to find they had cooked an Indian meal in our honour. And no beef, but a mutton curry. And baingan bharta. One needs to be faced with an Irish baingain bharta when one was expecting beef to know how bad life can get.

  42. One keeps hearing horror stories about the insularity of travelling Indians, but this was the first time I was seeing it at such close quarters

    But there are degrees and degrees of insularity, and when it reaches the point where you’ve completely closed your mind to any sort of new experience, and in the process made a spectacle of yourself and inconvenienced others…well, that’s problematic

    Two very interesting statements here. Are you sure you are saying all that could be imputed therefrom?

    Of course not, and maybe you would like to take a closer look at them.
    And then again, maybe not.

    The latter statement, in particular, could also be assumed to translate into ... Libertarian Bloggers ( cartelist by default if not design, I must aver ), who are also Atheist by choice, tend to be so insular that they have completely closed their minds to any form of Religious Experience ... and, of course, the rest follows as indicated by Shrikanth. Does one reflexively dismiss the idea of a "Religious Experience" - (a) not having experienced any? (b) having attempted to, but not found anything remarkable ( read different )in particular for you to expand the horizons of your atheist thought and belief? (c) as Shrikanth remarks?

    Ah yes, the above has been flippantly brought to your notice. Treat it with no more significance than you would a grain of salt.

    But more seriously, have you lived with firangs, in close quarters, for extended periods of time ( read 3-4 years here )? Especially when they had the option of "wonderfully nourishing" ( at least that is what the GoI said and very few of us Indians could really bother to disagree ) and, supposedly, scientifically recommended to be wholesome and tasty "Indian" food ( with the saving grace of three planned four-course continental meals during the week )... or ... indifferently prepared limited-menu continental food for the entire week. Given your authoritative assertion about the insularity of travelling indians ( or those who reside abroad for that matter, though you did not speak of them in this post ), I wonder what you think was their choice? As a matter of practice?
    ( The firangs I refer to were ( and continue to be ) from the friendly Commonwealth countries )

    I suppose one has the most fun when it comes to your personal posts. As for the rest, I guess I would rather stay with the Wikipedia.

    I beg to remain,
    Yours Sincerely,

  43. I must apologise - On reflection, one just could not resist ...

    Education would like you to believe that the true measure of good writing is whether or you not you have managed to convey to the reader precisely ( and maybe more than ) what you intended. Experience tends to make you learn ( if you are open-minded enough ) that the only test of writing skill is to clarify, without doubt, to the reader all that you most certainly did not intend. It would be an Aim Plus achieved if you managed to convey what you intended as well.


    As ever,

  44. Vikram: "Irish baingan bharta". I feel your pain, dude. If it's any consolation, a friend made mention of endless suppplies of rajma-chawal on a Malaysian trip.

    KK: just a favour - can you put up one comment that isn't very long (2-3 lines max)? Because I'm preparing my year-end best comments list and it would be incomplete without one of your gems, but I can't use these lengthy ones (unless I quote a line out of context, e.g. "Treat this comment with no more significance than you would a grain of salt").

  45. Poor embarassing to be among the little brown people and their clumsy ways...and what he must have endured to think that foreigners would probably mistake him for one of these people.

    Jai- this being Christmas an all, you must try to forgive your co-travellers- they are too ignorant to know that they have a self-loathing, budding Nirad C. in their midst.

  46. Now I'm offended. To think that the list would be incomplete.

    I suppose I ought to have waited a while before I posted. jaiarjun_fan states it eloquently in the latter half of his comment.

  47. ... and, just for the record. Could we have at least one nice thing said about fellow-Indians and the possibly interesting things that they might be doing while travelling abroad? Is it that such people do not exist or that you spend the entire duration of the trip noticing such irritant behaviour and thereby getting back with only matters of such import?

  48. Could we have at least one nice thing said about fellow-Indians and the possibly interesting things that they might be doing while travelling abroad?

    Okay, here goes *Deep breath* A couple of these guys were really sweet and helpful. They gave me advice about the best bargains at the gold souk (having gone there one day before I went) and also at the duty-free shop at the airport. One of them gave me wake-up calls each morning, an hour before the car came to pick us up. (I didn't actually need the wake-up call, but that's beside the point.) They also helped me with my bags at the airport and willingly took photos for me through the trip (as I did for them). Very caring people on the whole and it's evil of me to make fun of them like this but I can't help it, I have a bad gene.

  49. we indians also have lot of time to discuss about silly topics like this..

  50. lol..I Love the way this post has expanded! I think the original point was made against insularity, though, not vegetarians or Indians. Americans, Europeans, Asians..insularity is a pandemic. It exists everywhere.

  51. Well the fact is that I have tried food from all countries but India food is the best. There is no question about it. It is because Indian food is so varied...just like India herself.

  52. Bad Gene?
    I'm sorry to hear that. Thought you were merely being churlish by force of habit.

  53. Anonymous after enjay: Really? ALL? Norwegian? Icelandic? Haitian? And what exactly would you call 'Indian food'? Surely you are not including Naga cuisine or even Bong food? Come now, confess, you do mean rajma chawal and kadi-pakora, don't you?

  54. 'True Libertarians would respect an individual's right not to rent out houses to people who don't measure up to his standards (even if those standards seem dubious)'

    - Just out of curiosity, what makes a "true" libertarian? Many libertarians who consider economic efficiency to be an important aspect are not "true" to the school anymore?
    -'You are free to do whatever you wish with your property or self, so long as you RESPECT THE LIBERTY OF OTHERS!' Even Wikipedia would tell you that about libertarianism, so would/could a "true" libertarian respect A's right to NOT rent his flat out to a Non-Vegetarian over B's right to fancy a Haggis Dinner?

    All very confusing indeed!

    Hilarious read Jai and apologies for the rather lengthy comment! :)

  55. I don't see any reason for Jai or anyone to be apologetic about either the non-vegetarian bit or the rant about fellow Indians travelling abroad.

    First, it really is irritating for non-veg ppl to have to put up with the superciliousness and constant whining from the vegetarians about the superiority of a veg diet and the lack of availability abroad. Buy some freaking maggi from India and take it with you and don't accompany the others when they go for dinner! Capisce?

    Second, the reason why Jai rants about the behavior of Indians travelling and not Scandinavians or whoever, is that being Indian himself probbly makes it more embarrassing to have to view a fellow countryman's churlish behavior! As simple as that.

  56. You are free to do whatever you wish with your property or self, so long as you RESPECT THE LIBERTY OF OTHERS!Even Wikipedia would tell you that about libertarianism, so would/could a "true" libertarian respect A's right to NOT rent his flat out to a Non-Vegetarian over B's right to fancy a Haggis Dinner?

    sir, the jain house-owner isn't keeping you from consuming non-veg food. But for some quaint reason, he wants you to refrain from cooking meat on HIS property.

    That's perfectly in line with libertarian principles.

  57. shrikanth,
    thanks for the enlightenment! now, could you please answer the first question of mine? you know, the one about economic efficiency?

  58. Hi Jai,

    Being a non-vegetarian myself and having been a 'sinner' by many times "unknowingly" -er-mocking vegetarians , it is clear that sometimes non-veg cusine can be really tough for Indians.

    If you have heard of how Offal is savoured in the scandinavian countries and some other parts of Europe. Or how Black Pudding is a delicacy in Ireland. Apart from such food like blood sausages and Beef Tartare. This becomes delightfully painful as we have never been exposed to such non -veg food of these -Ahem! desecdants of ancient 'Asuras'.

  59. Have you tried haggis? Or how about eating dogs and cats? Bugs? Some societies eat them too. Still feeling adventurous? Oh, also, there may be other reasons for someone to choose a vegetarian diet than religion or ethics, like health and environment. Check out "Diet for a New America" by John Robbins for some info. I'm sure you are a bookworm, so you can add it to your list.

    Muslims and Jews don't eat pork. Maybe you should mention that in your post too. Or, are Hindus the only easy targets for you? ;)

  60. Actually, please continue pouring scorn on Hindus from your atheistic pedestal. Because it will make many of us dig deeper and explore in more detail what exactly Hinduism has to offer. So, your criticisms may well bring about some positive results, and obviously you needn't worry - no one is going to issue a fatwa for your head. ;)

  61. Last Anon: did you get that the post deals with food insularity of the sort that doesn't have anything to do with restrictions imposed by religion (or vegetarianism)? Or do you filter every single thing you read through the tired old prism of "it's easy to scorn Hindus but why don't people have the guts to criticise other religions"?

  62. Thats very true. I lived with 2 ppl who absolutely refused to eat anything beyond Indian food

  63. Hi,

    Good post, it's a very important and useful information for the people who are suffering from indigestion.

  64. Oh my god, how each and every word of yours is scrutinised, sure is a compliment to any writer, regardless of whether the remarks on the post are positive or negative. And i think u do know that, as u respond to the comments, sometimes to the silly ones too...

  65. It probably is also a generation thing, my friends would never hangout anywhere except for MacD, but when they began calling vadapav, The Indian Burger suddenly it became cool. I always thought Indians were embaraassed by their food just like they are of everything Indian...

  66. I see experimenting with food as one of the great joys of travelling. There is nothing that turns me off more than picky partner when it comes to food. Trouble is, there are so many of'em picky people!