Sunday, December 31, 2006

Food Epiphany and Eating Etiquette

Food Epiphany and Eating Etiquette

23:45 ,December 31 ,2006

The minimum temperature is below the freezing point and it accelerates to reach two digits in the mid-day. However, the cold wind will be with you most of the time that has already started to hit the inner tributaries of mind and heart both physically and psychologically. Adapting to live in the freezing cold for a long time is a challenge and opportunities for cells and tissues. I am still eagerly waiting for my grand day!! But I have to wait one more months to reach the climax of freezing cold to feel the snow fall if I am lucky.

The month started by computer network course, the area of my interest of undergraduate degree. The course content was not impressive as I expected to dig more, nevertheless it was professional. It helped me to get fundamental and practical insights that are worthy in the professional environment. Learning Photoshop and finishing many e-books in snail-crawling class was something I have never expected I will do in my life. However, I was happy I learned Photoshop although I am poor in an art of drawing.

Life becomes colourful when it’s twilight in the 1912 street. Asking for some barbecue sticks and getting more than two dozens sticks was one of the common problems we suffer due to the gap in communication. However, when I ate a lot of it, I realized that it was the wise decision that I have made which was keeping my stamina up for the whole night, eventually assisting art of dancing. It was a food for enjoyment and living.

There are different reasons why people eat food. Obviously, the prime reason is for survival. But when survival is no more a question, then people eat food for enjoyment and fun. Some people are very conscious about their food to keep there physique to be slim or to show biceps and triceps. Some peoples have a passion of eating, they can’t resist it and can’t avoid it, and no matter they are suffering from diabetics or obesity. They are vulnerable to foods and they are cryptic in the dining room.

The choice of individual varies diversely depending on their culture and the way they are brought up. Interestingly, age and sex are crucial factors which determine the choice of food. Western and Eastern foods are completely different. Even the foods within the eastern cultures differ according to the different geographical regions and cultural diversity even in the same region.

Some are under nourished and some are malnourished, some are underweight and others are obsessed. Some are spending lot of money to manage their weight and some are not having enough money to have basic foods they ought to have.

Hunger and famine are some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. No matter, how people define an art of eating, I should say I am not fond of eating except few itineraries; maybe I am eating for survival!! It is no doubt that eating is key issues not only for human to survive or for ecstasy but also for all living creatures in the universe.

Vicky, the name sounds Hindi, but she is my Chinese friend. Having English nick name is one of the common cultures of young Chinese peoples. I do have many Chinese friends but this girl is very close to us and is very happy to spend a time with us. Vicky, A freshman of Psychology major at Nanjing University, is originally from Beijing. I would be always thankful to her for sharing her precious moment and help us to know insights of Chinese culture despite our communication gap. I never asked her Chinese name that shows how pathetic I am in Chinese language. However, it’s mind-boggling every time she brings that tiny electronic machine with her to bridge the gap of our communication. This is how technology helps people to bridge the gaps and grasps opportunities. Promiscuously, it seems the missions are learning English and Chinese culture cryptically.

On one evening, we spend more than five hours walking through the underground train subway. It is mind-boggling to roam around the underground metro subway as you see the fascinating window shops that serve your every need. You will never realize that time moves so fast until you see your clock tickles seamlessly as the sub-way spreads more than few kilometres, bigger than shopping malls of Kathmandu. The three layers spread with wide varieties of commodities ranging from the beauty parlour to KFC and MCDONALDS and at the bottom is the metro. I was wondering when I will experience travelling through underground metro but it was never a distance dream. Watching other peoples doing window-shopping was a fantastic experiences that will remain in your grey matter forever in this crowded sub-way.

Spending entire evening with Vicky and watching her trying to catch English words was amazing. But it seems that she was imitating more slang, the analogy to most of African friends, rather than understanding its proper uses. It’s no doubt that English is becoming critical and a key factor for career and growth opportunities in china like of many countries as globalization continues to invade the geographical boundaries.

I was mesmerizing the time I met her for the first time at the corner of Nanjing Normal University when we were enjoying mutton barbecue, we never thought we will be so close with her. It was simply the matter of time and the frequency of propagation.

Later we enjoy the night life again. We were already addicted to hear the western music in eastern culture and colourful light and heart-throbbing music in subtle environment that were hitting our ear-drums whole night. The vomiting and sleeping jerks are daily commodities that can be enjoyed without tickets around these premises along with exploding emotions and musical harmony.

It was already a freezing morning at 1912 street after fascinating and wonderful night life. The clock was ticking so fast again with the beat of music. It was wonderful time dancing whole-night. Eating dumpling (MOMOS) with chopsticks in dawn was the need or the enjoyment that was very hard to realize. However, the month was surprising as most of time we were busy in eating various types of foods ranging from Italian to Chinese, and truly Nepali. It was simply a food epiphany, a co-incidence for wrapping-off the year.

Eating etiquette can vary widely between different cultures and nations. In China, a person who takes the last item of food from a common plate or bowl without first offering it to others at the table may be seen as a glutton and insulting the generosity of the host, similarly, amongst older Australian women, a woman who takes the last item of food is called the old spinster, whilst in most European cultures a guest is expected to eat all of the food given to them, as a compliment to the quality of the cooking. The last two needs to be verified personally. In some societies including Hindu it is considered disgusting to eat with the left hand, because the left hand is reserved for dirty tasks, and left handed individuals are sometimes forced to use their right hand.

Again, it was time to enjoy Nepalese food again. But this time we invited some of our Chinese friends and Nepalese friends together to TajMahal Restaurant and Bar at Shin Je Kou, Nanjing. We were two less for a dozen with four of our Chinese friends. As we sit together in two rows facing one another. We started with milk-tea, a traditional tea of Nepal. In the walls, the environment was perfect as we can see different beautiful Indian actress and south-eastern culture. When we started our food, Chinese friends were in dilemma, maybe they were looking for the chopsticks that were not there. The dishes and utensils were antiques all made up of bronzes. Our foods are very spicy compared to Chinese foods. I can see our Chinese friends looking for the water frequently to quench the thirst. It was their first experience. Everything in life at first is confusing but amusing and intrinsic. We started our lunch at mid-day. Later some of the foreigners also enjoyed watching us eating the traditional Nepali food as we have homogenous foods along the table. After tea was traditional bread, rice, chicken curry, pulse, chicken-tandoori, Rice, salads. The food was even spicy for me. I could feel something was happening inside me, however, we enjoyed it a lot. I believe my stomach has already been tuned for Chinese food. At last, we wrap-off our wonderful lunch with desert white-sweet called “Rasbari” in Nepali. We enjoyed almost two hours. Practically, we were never concerned about food etiquette as in multicultural environment these issues are non relevant as there is no uniformity. Simply most of us were enjoying. We were happy that some of our Chinese friends are willing to visit Nepal someday, I am afraid; it’s not a verbal and food compliment!

The following day we were invited by few Nepalese friends to have dinner near Nanjing Normal University. We went to talking restaurant. This time we were exactly half-dozen rounded up in a small table at the corner. At other side of the table we could see the Christmas tree. Before we pass through the streets today, we could see everywhere Christmas trees. I think these Christmas trees are guided by the principle of globalization and economy. We enjoyed pizzas, mashed-potatoes, spaghetti and drinks. It was perfect time enjoying the western food.

At last in compliment before leaving, we got a merry Christmas wishes from owner.

Also we were lucky to visit Nanjing Hongshan Forest Zoo this month. My desire turned into reality when we used metro, fast moving underground train that passes through Nanjing City from the centre.

We started with Flamingo, move to crown cranes garden and was happy to see the Siberian crane. We watched peacock garden, I watched the peacock legs. In Nepal they used to say “peacock will cry seeing legs that are not beautiful like its feathers”. I couldn’t convince myself, the legs were not as ugly as in phrase.

Later we were having ostrich mania as everybody wants to take photos with this big bird. I was just wondering how nature creates these wonderful things with diversity. After that, we move to carnivorous animals starting with panther, Bengal tiger, white-black tiger. Most of them were sleeping and it seems that they were not happy behind bars. How could they be?? Animals don’t love modern and materialistic life like human. Then we move to Lion zoology garden, the lion stunt was the majestic and royal style. In the way, I was shocked to see some rotating wheels again; it gave me flashback of the shocking time in amusement park couple of weeks back.

We can see many children’s at this place as it was the children’s place. They were happy to compliment us with “ni hao” each time we greet them. Something I have learned in last four months.

We had fried-rice as a lunch this time, the cheapest lunch I ever had in china. I was scared to have it at first because of stomach problem as we were experiencing different types of food and I was already tuned to Chinese food long time back. It seems that this time everybody eat for calorie after using it to see natural diversity.

Interestingly, I was scared to ride camel and horse to have photos at first. But I have no patience to resist becoming a cowboy or a Siberian silk-road traveller with horse and camel. It was a wonderful experience to have photos riding them.

Also, we watched one of the endangered species of the world, white panda and red panda. Red panda gave us warm sense of hospitality but white panda maybe dreaming of his boy-friend so she was not active. She was lying and enjoying the nap of winter. I think she did wise decision.

One of the incredible experiences was animal circus inside the zoo’s premises. It started with warm welcome and applause with tiger and lion show. They were tamed by the professionals and were performing different gestures and sometimes were rotating the wheels. It seems that they were tamed using pointed and thick stick along with the frequency of sound. The show was followed by dwarf and dog. Dog did some aerobics and walked only through front and rear legs. Later she did skipping. Then we saw monkey aerobics and bear’s cycling. At last, there was procession taking Christmas gift by bear at last with monkeys in vanguard followed by human. It was perfect combination of zoological diversity. I was amazed to see these performances, however it seems that most of these animals are not enjoying the show except dog, they were doing these things in psychological stress, and I feel sorry for them and was optimistic for their independence and freedom.
Later in the eve of Christmas day, Getting Christmas Card for the first time in my life was another wonderful experience in non-religious china.

Also, I got my first New Year gift from Melody, my Chinese friend who lives at south-east part of china. We never meet but we were good friends on internet, the virtual world for many peoples but real one for us. But I was surprised that she knows my choice. I think that she read my blog seriously. No matter her choice was perfect.

We were studying in the weekend as they were elongating New Year holiday for three days. So, are we becoming book-worm? Something I never did in my life.

The most disgusting part of this year was internet crawling to survive as we were isolated for last four days because of earthquake in Taiwan. It was serious problem from Beijing to Bangkok and from Shanghai to Kathmandu, most part of Asia pacific region due to the problem of fibre-optics. I was becoming crazy of internet so badly that I could feel it making differences in my life although it’s simply a virtual environment for many.

The year is rounding up forever within few minutes for me. Peoples in Aussie are in the year 2007 and will be followed by Asians and rest of west on the basis of Longitude.

Closing up food etiquette on the New Year eve was interesting for me. Completing my blog with apple and vanilla coke was exciting moment for me enjoying the last hour of year 2006. Behind the curtain was the Peter Andre with Mysterious Girl. The apple was something I never liked in my life and coke was something I always love from my heart, the taste was juxtaposition. I am still asking myself this is a food for epiphany or etiquette. But for me, it was both!!

I know this is my last paragraph of the year 2006. Finally, let’s hope that peace and development with secular humanism prevails in the year 2007.

Adieu 2006: Time 12:45: Nanjing, China