What Does My Food Preference Has To Do With Religion?


Food is healthy, whether you eat it or talk about it. While returning from IIT Bombay, on my journey to Delhi on August-Kranti Rajdhani, an incident happened when food actuated a political discussion. The man in his 40s seated opposite to me asked what a Jain-platter was pointing towards my plate which happened to be Jain. [I figured out the availability of Jain-platter on train last year while on my way to Ahmedabad on Swarna-Jayanti Rajdhani when my fellow passenger ordered it. I went there for the NID interviews.]

"It doesn't have onion!" I replied after swallowing.
After a while when we were finished eating, he tried to crack a conversation again,
"Now you also have got reservation!"
"Sorry?" I said keeping my book (a Paulo Coelho's...) aside as if I heard something wrong.
"Jains have got reservation too," he said.
"I'm not a Jain! I'm Hindu!" I modulated my voice.
"Jains are also Hindus!" he said.
"No, that's not what I mean. I'm Yadav," I said.
"Oh! I thought so since you were eating a Jain platter," he clarified.
"What does my food preference has to do with religion? I ate Jain food because I don't like onion," I said, "By the way, Jainism is a different religion altogether so what if Indian Constitution doesn't give them a separate identity."
"Yes, Jains have got reservation, I belong to General category so I know how bad reservation is. But what difference does it make? They keep introducing reservation every now and then, so it really doesn't affect me anymore. And you'd be having Kashmiri Migrant reservation [I got to know this in his previous conversation] so why're you worried of another reservation being introduced?" I said.
"I do have it but I never used it," he replied.
"Sir, [Pause] given our history, reservation is inarguably important in some areas like defense background, riot victims, and Kashmiri Migrants but the way it is being implemented is not correct. Those who really need it are still devoid of it and ultimately it's the upper-middle class and riches who take 'undue advantage'. It is because of the unjust reservation system that meritorious General category is not getting the opportunity. They keep introducing Caste-based and Religion-based reservations but never bring laws to curb corruption. This year, They have put in Their manifesto that if They come to power again, They'd introduce reservation even in private sector! The sad part is, we can't fight Them; They might charge us for 'sedition.'" I added further.
"Arre bhaiya, [Calling every stranger man 'bhaiya' even if he's as old as one's son has become the culture of Delhi!] reservation system is promoting communalism which coupled with economic divide is killing our nation," he said in agreement.
"Well, it's quite strange that you didn't use reservation because the one who has it, uses it," I smiled.
"You know, I'm also against reservation. Have you heard about Mandal Commission?" he asked.
"Yes, I wasn't born then but I'm aware. It's of '89-'90. Lakhs of youth had protested against the new reservation," I flaunted my Gk.
"I was part of the agitation!" he proudly said.
"Wow! Sir, that's amazing!" I smiled.
"Yeah! We marched on the streets with our shirts off, shouting slogans!" he added with his chin up because of pride.
"It's really nice to hear that sir," I sort of congratulated him.
"I'm sorry for calling you Jain, I hope you didn't mind?" he smiled.
"No absolutely not, I'm secular! In fact, I, too, am sorry!" I said.

And our conversation which started off with onion ended with a discussion on reservation when suddenly the fat man seated next to the opposite, who otherwise was busy playing some game on his 6'' phone asked me...
"Jain sahab, food was spicy, huh?"
"Why do you ask him so?" the first man asked the fat man.
"Arre! he took two tumblers of curd," the fat man laughed.
"Yeah! They had put spices even in rice. I guess Mumbaikars eat too much spices because food wasn't spicy when I came from Delhi," I saved myself.

And then, the young man employed as sales officer after his MBA who was sitting beside me, slid his plate with left over food under the seat. The fat man jumped in again...
"You're not hungry?" fat man asked the guy.
"No, uncle! Actually the food was very spicy," he said while opening his laptop.
[And all of us started laughing. How unprofessional! I thought, didn't he learn in his MBA, not to acknowledge any stranger with uncle or aunt! Anyway, at least, I didn't leave any food.]
"This is why I took two tumblers of curd!" I said, signalling that leaving food is a bad habit.
[And finally! I ended the conversation on food before the fat man asked for my lower birth.] 


Train Scene

Train Scene



Related links:-
The Apathy Of General Category: Cartoon Sketch 3
India In Coming Years: Cartoon Sketch 2

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