“Eat, pray, love” — not necessarily in that order | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 10, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 10, 2019

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“Eat, pray, love” — not necessarily in that order

I Googled “Sharing food,” and the results were as bizarre as the search itself. But it proved a point.

Mr Google responded:

“People also ask:

Is it OK to share food with friends?

Is sharing food a sign of intimacy?

What shared food means?

Why do we share food?”

Surely, Google and I were not in the same page.

Our exercise this week is not about how much we depend on the Internet; it’s on ‘sharing food,’ which seemed like a pretty simple concept. Or so I thought.

We celebrated Eid only a few weeks ago; Durga Puja is right around the corner, and Christmas will be here soon. Come New Year’s Eve, you will realise another year has passed by and in retrospect, you have accomplished nothing.

Of course, that is not what your Facebook friends will know. Simply because, you will fly to Vietnam and as you return, not only will you find the month’s pay already spent, but also in debt as you endorsed the dollars, but old-fashioned budgeting took a back seat. You were born in the ‘90s, and the concept of ‘Traveller’s Check’ never did sink in.

I will not say social media does not have its fair share of good use. People bond, remains connected, share thoughts and ideas. As someone who has a special bond with the IT section, and one that gets stronger with every passing day, I marvel at the idea of people collecting meat from city dwellers, only to distribute them to places which are beyond their reach.

And I was amazed to see the response. I truly felt that maybe this is the very spirit of Eid after all! And what makes me prouder is that these are indeed youngsters, most of them two decades younger than I.

For years, every time we cook a decent meal, a portion invariably goes to the family living in the opposite flat. At times, they share ‘mejbani mangsho’ and my wife reciprocates with her special ‘beef shatkora.’ We also share a love for seafood, and every time I see large pomfrets on the dinner table, I know where they are from.

I can recall a time when, come Eid day, the less fortunate would form queues in front of houses and collect the meat, only to sell it to the butcher. Many held them guilty of sacrilege without even thinking twice that maybe for a single day, they have more meat than they can consume.

As far as meat from qurbani is concerned, the spirit of sharing teaches us to split into three equal shares. Most people usually see that this duty is performed within sunset, yet some others treat matters in a different fashion.

I cannot say if this is a permissible way of doing things, but the reason for sharing the idiosyncrasy of this family is simply the novelty of it.

The three-member family does not share most people’s enthusiasm for red meat. So, beef is on the table as long as the Eid day dish lasts. Most of the meat gets stock piled in the refrigerator, only to be used for preparing meat dishes throughout the year— from the humble samosa for the unannounced guest, to lavish winter barbeques — this is the what they use!

The family lives in an area that sees destitute men, women, and children sleep with just a blanket as a cover; at times without a sheet to protect from the Aedes and the Anopheles mosquitoes. A nearby city corporation signboard proudly claims — “Beggar Free Area!” — a mockery of the lives that are less fortunate. 

I realise homeless and beggars are not synonyms, but the sorry state of our governance and prevailing social order is not too difficult to fathom. This particular group, and some others in the neighbourhood, are well aware of which household to visit whenever they are in need for meat, perhaps for a festive occasion of their own; perhaps, just to give the taste buds a different feel. This supply runs for 12 months, and the cycle continues.

There have always been people who share food is such curious manners. One of my acquaintances makes it a point to feed people on the birthday of her deceased father. She gives away food parcels filled with sweets and savouries her father once used to enjoy. Another interesting soul takes a rickshaw ride to any random bazaar; asks if the rickshaw-puller will wait while he does his grocery.

Sometimes, they do, at times, they do not.

On his way back, he gives away the entire bag of grocery fit enough to provide a square meal for a family. The rickshaw pullers are often taken aback; at times, accepting  only after persuasion.

The concept of distributing/sharing food is as simple as treating a friend at his favourite burger joint, or cooking your wife’s favourite — lasagne — on your anniversary. Charity is promoted, charity is needed. What is more needed is showing people that the fellow being cares. Make sure that deep in your heart, the list goes —love, pray, eat. And in that exact order!

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