Sunday, 19 June 2011

Home delivery and Wives

Life in Kolkata post the economic meltdown has few good things to offer.
The plump of the wallet is gone and even if it’s not, then you must be spending much less than before. There are fewer trips to shopping malls and arcades and multiplexes, and fewer still expensive weekends at those sea-side resorts. The sheen of love life may also be missing as your wife or girlfriend is angry— fuming over the sheer small number of demands being met of all that she usually makes.

But we, the Kolkatans, have the mystical ability to take pleasure in things that other castes or creeds or populations don’t have, not at least to the extent benchmarked by us. And it’s a habit that not even the deadliest and nimblest chain of economic events set in by the brainiest and greediest wizards of the Wall Street can alter.

No points for guessing. It’s our uncanny talent to guzzle down anything we consider edible— for the sake of experiment or just to fill that eternally strong void below our chest— caring least about the nature of the place of eating or if proper hygienic measures were taken. The city streets showcase the flair with a great flourish, and also show why the eateries in and around the city— big, small and the ones that we call hole-in-the-wall— have been able to cock a snook at all business magazine editors! As if this were not enough, there are the new-age food home-delivery services bringing all the lip-smacking restaurant delicacies right to your door—hot, crisp and at card rates!

So, don’t blame the city if it’s gobbling down more than it can digest, as this prescription to fight recession is very much Kolkatan in nature— rightfully and quintessentially. And don’t we all know we eat more when we are depressed?

The USP of these services is not their web-based service. Nor is it the pricing, for their delivery charges are higher compared to the restaurants’. It’s the names of eateries on display in their websites, rather. They are names whose celebrated dishes Kolkatans have been craving for since time unknown. You plan your dinner with Chelo Kebab from Peter Cat, Aminia’s Biriyani and Mocambo’s Chicken Paprica, and get it all delivered right to your dining table. Isn’t it quite a revolution on our dinner table?

There’s been another change, almost invisible but substantial, which the home delivery services have brought about almost stealthily— because secrecy is a common prerequisite for all great radical movements. And the one I’m going to talk about is of such a magnitude that we’ll probably undermine it by calling just a ‘change’. It’s a change of order, more appropriately.

Think of an old man, maybe the one you meet at your morning walk often— retired, neglected and thwarted by his family members, whose life has shrunk into a corner, along with a pile of newspapers and other useless stuff. This man, in all likelihood, pleads for his morning tea everyday at least twenty times before a cup of pallid, tasteless and tepid liquid reaches him. Even occasional small desires like having a favourite dish are harshly snubbed by his wife, and a two hour long sermon in a shrill voice is what follows with the threat of continuing it further in the instance of a feeble resistance. He can’t remember the last time he ate his dinner without a pinch of the undying blame that it’s primarily his poor performance at vegetable markets and grocery stores responsible for the bland taste of the food served before him!

What’s the influence of new-age home delivery services on him?
It means a lot, and maybe much more. Because, someday his wife is going to find him at dinner table with a delicacy ensemble that doesn’t bear her signature taste. Our man, after finishing his dinner, would gently wipe his fingers with a tissue then— his face emitting the triumphant joy last seen on the faces of great crusaders— and would finally point a trembling finger at his wife and say, “Yes, we can!”

And the history of Kolkata’s dinner tables will take a new turn from this moment. Who said words like Change and Revolution are only Barack Obama’s copyright!


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