Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Domestic Business Conference!

Why do you eat out? What is the concept of dining out all about? No! this post is least about nutrition. It has more to say about deteriorating value systems in human bonding.

These days I loathe going out to eat in fine dining restaurants. They seem to be more of affluence exhibits than a place to eat and talk your heart out. From historic times, eating had a lot of emotional value placed on it. Food was synonymous with victory, celebration and joy. Eating was an enjoyable occasion. The men of the tribe used to hunt long and hard for the prey in the daytime and in the evenings the catch was partaken with a feeling of gratitude and happiness. There was music, dance and of course, eating! Yes, it was an entertaining occasion, more so of the exalted spirits of positivity and cheer in the hearts of men. To express this cheer, there was music, lights and food. The taste really dint matter. They had worked hard, they were happy and anything they ate would have been sumptously tasty.

These days, there is still a lot of music, lights and taste associated with eating. Yet, one thing seems to be missing - the spirit, the feel, the cheer in the heart. The miscellaneous extravagances seem created more to evoke this spirit than to celebrate it. Every time I walk into a fine dining restaurant, there seems to be a contagious code of 'formality', 'dignity' and 'affluence' in the air. More often than not, every one is dressed at their best, having worn one of their better attires, seated in the 'right' posture, and conversing in the 'right' volume just loud enough to be heard, and with the same sober expression fixed on their faces. Nothing unruly, nothing wild, nothing out of 'order'. Even if you entered with the mood of a wild teen, you would soon be domesticated by the ambience. It makes me remember fonly back to the times when I used to go out to eat with a close friend and every minute of this time of bonding was filled with involvement, heart-felt laughter, wild stories and passion-filled talking. After a while, we would look around and observe that we were the only ones who were so involved with the other. A couple near us did not exchange as much as a single word during their entire stay in the restaurant. Yes, they were probably having a fight. Yet, that was not the last couple I observed on a similar note.

Stuff like taking the family out on vacation, eating out, going for a movie has become a 'duty' , something that got to be done and gotten over with in the weekend in most of the families. These are the things that are synonymous with leisure and I must have that too - Yes, to have a 'complete' life, as along with a fat paycheck, pretty wife and obedient kids, thinks the head of the male in the family. 

Going out to eat is a ritual. A plan is made to try the new cuisine in the posh-looking artistically adorned restaurant that everyone is talking about. The date is fixed. The time is set. The woman takes an hour to get dressed. She is excited to try the new suit she bought a week back. Then she makes sure the kid is dressed pretty and looks good. The man screams it is getting late and forces them out and locks the door. Yes, this is his family, a happy family , he tells himself. Kid is getting good grades - Check!, Wife has managed to remain trim and pretty - Check!, They have a house - Check!, They own a car - Check!, He will soon get a raise - Check!

Wait! What about the promotion that he was coveting? "Seems like the office rumour mill has it that Mr.Sen might get it instead. Damn! He should do something about it - probably throw a party next week to cajole his boss." As the thoughts pass ceaselessly in his mind while he drives the car, his wife looks out and plans how to coerce her husband to buy the home theatre she saw in Mrs Sen's house. The kid is busy listening to his I Pod touch at the back. They reach the restaurant. Yes, it sure is posh. They order the best course, exchange a few mundane topics which none are really bothered about and get going. Weekend Social ritual - Check!

Were they bored? Probably not, the music, lights and posh interior decors kept them engaged and made them feel important, affluent and part of the booming rich. In fact, they thoroughly enjoyed it.

The next time you are in such a place, do look around and observe. You will see them. They will be laughing, yet with no happiness seen in it. They will be talking, yet with no conversation seen in it. They will be nodding, yet with no involvement seen in it.


13 comments:

abhster said...

People judge what they are eating by the taste . A classmate of mine didnt like the sandwiches his mom sent him , so he just chucked it into the dustbin . Why do people have to be so picky ? a dinner is just an excuse to bring people together , no one cares about the food ( atleast it was like that 5 years ago ) . Whenever we meet for dinner , we have the joy of seeing each other , and we're least concerned about the food . Why do people have to show-off a lot ? it is unnecessary and it makes you look like a berk . The answer is : people are not happy with what they have ! let me give you an example :- I know a guy who changed his iPods 3 times just because his previous 2 " went out of fashion ! " I mean HOW DUMB IS THAT ? I bought an iPod 4 years ago ( regardless of whether it was " in " or " out " ) and it still works . I dont intend to change it until it stops working and when it does , I'll just find something else thats reliable . Stiff and formal dinners are just an excuse to show how " civilized " you are which is pure BULLSHIT . The main intention of dinner is the gathering of people which brings us joy , and the food always comes second ( although we should pick good food , not bad food saying we're here to talk not eat ) . Whenever we celebrate my mom's birthday , we go out to dinner ( its not about how fancy it is , its about the once in a while change and how good the food is ) and at that time , we can find a sober family at the restaurant just like you described them : dad wears a silk tie , mummy wears her best saree , son plays PSP , and daughter is texting on her newly purchased iPhone . You just look at them , waiting for them to break the silence . When they dont , you think " what is wrong with you people ???? cant you say something already ? " and you get tempted to splash the coke in your hand all over their faces just to see them do something . People " dine " out for the sake of seeing each other , but when they do , they just straighten their damn ties and sit , cutting the meat with a knife and eating with a fork , chewing without sound with absolutely no talk . If this is what we call " civilized " then its driving me crazy !!!!!

amudhan said...

One of the things I really wanted to write (or read) about, and as always, not exactly the same content, but a lot related to this... (you may ask, 'then why in the world you are not writing such topics'... it is because, it takes a lot of time to make a documentary topic like this to be interesting right? I hope you would have put a lot of time in making this... but, if I have to write about junk topics, I can write fast... it is the difference between classical movie and a commercial movie)

It is really very sad and pathetic about the current views of family-responsibility... movies, ipods, costly-lunch, treat, etc. But my worry is not that the human value is decreasing, but that we are depleting the earth so fast because of our stupid greediness. We can only wish that people get off such stupid assumptions.

"They will be laughing, yet with no happiness seen in it. They will be talking, yet with no conversation seen in it. They will be nodding, yet with no involvement seen in it." - it is as true and as sad as how awesome this paragraph has been written...

Sindu said...

Yes, I did take a lot of time into writing this. In fact, I still do not feel I have done justice to it. The high that one gets after a tiresome creation is just not there.

I did not think along the lines of depleting the planet's resources - good one!

Sindu said...

@Abhishek: "and you get tempted to splash the coke in your hand all over their faces just to see them do something " - Haha... that would sure be hilarious :D

amudhan said...

@Sinduja:
Trust me... you have done a lot of justice to the efforts you had put to create this post... I think you even deserve to buy yourself a costly dinner in your best attire for this nice job/post :)

CHIBI said...

good one.. i really liked this post. my family had this weekend ritual, when i was really young, it was a time when eating outside was like going to disneyland. coming to think of it from my parent's view..movie and dinner was a great way for them to spend some quality time as a family without thinking of any problems at work or home.

Sindu said...

@Amudhan: :D Good one.. thanks a lot! :)

@Chibi: Yes, I guess it serves as a distraction for many. Yet, enjoyment can never take the place of distraction!

abhster said...

@Sinduja: Mr.Gunasekara and Chibi are both right . You might feel you've not written this post properly , but its accurately described and you've added punch lines in the right places . Even I couldnt come up with something like this ! Trust me , you're being too hard on yourself . And your last paragraph was perhaps the best in the entire post . Perhaps you should take Mr.Gunasekara's advice and go out to dinner in your best attire just to celebrate your well written post. Congratulations on your brilliant post .

Sindu said...

Thanx Abhi.. your words are always a great boost. And... Mr. Gunasekara? :P ..lol, why dont we call him amudhan? :D

amudhan said...

@Abhi:
Please don't make me feel like an old guy... you can call me Amudhan or Amu but NOT definitely Mr. Gunasekaran or 'Sir' (Sindu, will you believe me... he had referred me as 'Sir' twice).

Sindu said...

@amudhan: Haha... kaatrullabodhe thoothikol (Hope u know the proverb) ... nambalakkum oruthar mariyadha tharaangannu ensoi!! ;) That too, it was Mr.Gunasekar'a'!! Note the pt

abhster said...

@Amudhan and Sinduja : Yenaka tamil nallai puriyadhe anna avla pesa theriyadha ( please do me justice and tolerate my rather mediocre tamil ). If " mariyadha " means respect ( as I understand it ) , then both of you do deserve respect ( I mean with both of you being good blog writers and being considerably elder to me ) . Sorry about making amu feel like an " old man " , calling him " sir " , and the spelling mistake .

mr.weirdo!! said...

the rise of caged animals - humans. we are trapped in a cage called society where every blink of an eye is an afterthought process. we so driven by the people around us yet we are immersed in ourself. isn't there a conflict? i don't have an ans. But its surprising you went to the age of cave man to draw a comparison. what about men after the birth of civilization? what about the afterneath of the birth of God worship?