Waste Not Want Not

Of all things great and small that I absolutely detest is food wastage by an adult. [I added that last bit, because children don’t really understand the implications of food wastage.]

The other day, we had one of my mum’s friends from Dubai over. She has moved back to India permanently, and is currently settled in Vishakapatnam with her Air Force husband. She was on her way back from Calicut, and was taking a detour through Mumbai.

She had rung mum up, looking to catch up. She suggested lunch, and we decided to meet halfway. Our home is in Matunga East, and she was staying with friends in Andheri West. Her contention was that it needed to be accessible by auto rickshaw, so the initial plan was to meet up at Bandra Kurla Complex, where there are a plethora of nice restaurants.

On the day of, my mum was feeling poorly, so she asked her to come over instead. Now, since auto rickshaws are not allowed past a certain point in Mumbai, she offered her an Uber instead. Somewhat to my surprise, she accepted.

The lady showed up, and dove immediately into the laden table my mother had prepared. Since she was coming after a while, my mum had slogged over about 10 different dishes, all vastly different yet complementary. We were of course pleased to see that she was hungry, and I set about serving her, as is custom in India.

[As an aside, I follow customs up to a point. I prefer joining the meal too, instead of hovering solicitously, like a fathead, trying to be hospitable. I can be hospitable whilst eating too.]

Mum wasn’t hungry, so she skipped on food, and concentrated on making hot egg wraps. I am not being crude, but I piled that plate pretty high. I made sure there was a little of every item, and I had to set out bowls for those that didn’t fit on the plate.

After I sat down, I continued to push various dishes forward, asking if she would like anything periodically. She did take several helpings of various dishes, although she never once commented on the food or the spread. Mum did ask her whether she was enjoying the repast, but she declined to comment. I furrowed my brow a bit, but decided not to be judgemental.

After about 2 hours of lunch [yes, really!], she deigned to rise from the table. I saw in absolute shock that her plate was still mostly full of food. She has wasted almost every single item, even those she had taken seconds and thirds of.

In utter disbelief, my mum and I scraped food that I worked hard to earn and she slogged to make into a plastic bag for the bin. I was close to tears because it was effectively a full meal I had to throw into the bin. My mother was as stunned, but perhaps more collected than I was.

The rest of her visit passed in a red haze for me. And I was glad to be shot of her when she left, happily paying for a second Uber, this time for her to get back home.

I cannot begin to describe the rage and pain I felt when I saw that laden plate. Aside from the moral implications, income is not easily forthcoming in my household. My mother, despite being ill, worked very hard to prepare that meal. It is against our family’s culture to waste food.

Never want to clap eyes on her ever again.

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