Posted by: gdevi | November 23, 2011


When I went to pick up my daughter today at noon dismissal time–early dismissal for Thanksgiving–she told about the total boogaloo at lunch-time. Somebody took somebody’s corn, someone else took someone else’s walkie taco (I hope they caught up with it), and someone took someone else’s dorito chips, and somebody dunked someone’s chocolate milk. It was confusion central at central mountain middle school. Do you all share lunch?  I asked her. No, she protested, R took my corn!! She took all of it before I could eat it!! My daughter is a picky eater and I have never known her to be excessively protective of any corn dish. How interesting, I said. You know, when I was in school back in India, we all shared our lunch, I told her. Lunch time was great–me and all of my friends–Shari, Jaya, Sheela, Saudamini, Radhika–we all shared our lunch. We gave things from our lunch boxes to each other, and took what we liked from each other’s lunch packs. Sometimes the lunch was gone before lunch-time. We would finish it in between class periods.

This was true. Each one of us had a “specialty dish” that our friends liked. Jaya’s was this incredibly tasty beef fry; this was when I used to eat meat–I quit eating meat about twenty years ago; before that I was a carnivore like everyone else.  Jaya brought this beef fry almost every other day, and the rest of us could not wait for lunch recess to begin. Poor Jaya, she would get maybe a piece of the beef fry that she brought; that was all. We divided it amongst ourselves. The woman who cooked for Shari’s family made incredibly delicious chicken curry; we divided that amongst ourselves as well. Saudamini’s mother used to make the best vegetable chop suey; what a treat that was! Radhika always brought some sort of thoran or aviyal or other vegetable dish that was equally delicious. We ate that as well. My staple lunch was this wonderful fried potato, onion and green chillies with white rice; my mother or the woman who worked for us would make this everyday for me to take to school. My friends loved it. Some days slogging through Milton’s Areopagitica in the third hour all we could think of would be lunch. The school desks in India were these long desks with a  ribbed sloping surface for writing and with a shelf underneath with a closed back and an open front to store your books, bags, lunch etc. Teachers usually could not see if we took something from this shelf; so that is where we kept our lunch boxes. Sometime we would surreptitiously search for our lunch boxes with our hands keeping a very straight face so the teacher would suspect nothing, then slowly open the lunch box, and start taking tiny pieces of things we could possibly eat right then and there. Sometimes we would pretend that our pen fell on the floor, bend down, take a quick bite of the beef fry and then resurface with the pen in the hand. My dear teachers, if you should ever read this, please forgive me. Reading Milton was intellectually demanding and it always made me hungry.

Now, these days when I make something that I know my friends like, I usually save a small portion and take it to work, and leave it for them on their desk or mailbox. I made chicken biryani a couple of weeks ago and took a small portion for Lisette. Nic always brings me a small pack of cookies or some sort of incredibly delicious dessert that Michael would make. Lisette sometimes would leave some truffles or cookies in my mailbox. Let me tell you, after hours of continuous teaching, and meeting with students, it just brightens my day to find these little tokens of friendship on my desk or in my mailbox. Thank you, my good friends. Happy Thanksgiving.


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