a frightening common denominator

The furore created of US President Bush's recent tirade on the growing appetite of middle class India as the cause of the global food crisis is understandable as it is a blow well below the belt. And many will take up the gauntlet and give befitting answers. This post is not meant to do that.

The battle royale that is now splashed all over the media set me thinking in an entirely different direction. Pwhy has made me aware of many things that earlier did not hold my attention. One of them is the amount of food wasted be it in rich, middle class or poor India. Sadly it seems to be one of the few common denominators that bind all sections of urban India.

Peep into the garbage discarded after any wedding and you will find enough food to feed many hungry souls. Walk into any wedding, party or religious festival and you will find many half finished plates pushed under the tables or dropped into the big plastic containers kept for dirty plates. Look at any one serving him or herself at the buffet table and you will be astonished by the quantity of food piled up on their plate. We are a nation that almost prides ourselves at throwing food.

Every day as I walk the tiny lane of our centre there is food thrown on the street and in every garbage pile no matter how small. This how our very own Manu fed himself for many years: rummaging garbage piles.

In a land where food is equated to God and disrespect to it is considered a sin, this new found frenzy of throwing food is uncanny. Is it a way of asserting that one has finally arrived, reached, bettered one's self? I wonder. As a child I was taught very early to respect food and not throw it away. My mother after numerous pleas and entreaties put a stop to my habit of leaving food in my plate in a rather harsh but effective manner: the leftover plate was put into a fridge and put in front of me at every subsequent meal. The battle of wits between a 6 year old and her mother lasted two and half days. The hunger oangs made me eat that congealed food as if it was manna from the Gods. Needless to say that since I have not thrown any food away.

Last week there was a party in the lane behind our house. The next morning we found vast quantities of food thrown in the lane. It could have fed over 100 kids. That was rich India. he same week I scolded one of the foster care kids for not finishing his plate. Pat came the answer: my mod allows me to throw what I do not finish. That is poor India.

And yet we all complain about the spiraling rise of food prices.

Food for thought....

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