To eat or not to eat.
“Do you want beef in your sandwich?” No. I rattled off five or six No, terrified as if I am being forced to eat it. This happened when I was standing to get lunch in my college. My first day on campus. After that day I faced the question every day, from the same person. I guess he was thinking one day I will say yes, my rejection was just a mood thing. The reason for rejection was unknown even to my friends. They had befriended a Hindu for the first time. No, they had befriended a Hindu who does not eat beef for the first time. I know it’s surprising that there are Hindus who eat beef. I was shocked, but had to get over it because the person who was doing the unthinkable asked me to adapt myself to the American way, unless of course I wanted to stay the “backward” way. Backward!! I didn’t want that tag with my name; I told her that it was “cool” to eat beef. Still I could not make myself eat, the face of screaming yamaraj made sure that I stayed off.
Being a no beef person proved to be a difficult choice. The only place I could afford to eat, Mac Donald’s had great selection of beef sandwiches but just 3 chicken ones, which cost 3 times as much. Most of the times eating out meant feasting on French fries and tiny chicken nuggets. O well, I used to console myself by saying that I will surely go to heaven for all the sacrifices I am making, overcoming the temptations. Then the days of penny pinching ended, I graduated. Finally my earnings were just mine, and of course IRS (Internal Revenue Service) had its share. So to congratulate myself I went to an expensive place where they had great chicken sandwiches. I was so waiting for that day to come; I raked up a bill of $30 just for sandwiches!! Happy and content I went back home, hoping that the days to come will be better, filled with chicken.
Like all my sweet dreams, the chicken dreams also collapsed. My new hometown of West Lafayette, Indiana had no place where I could get affordable chicken sandwich, just like my old place. Back to square one. I started the “one special day I will get that spicy chicken sandwich” routine again. It helped when I started working at a local fast food place; employee discount made sure that the birds were within reach. Happy that I could now go along my great, pious life without having to worry about the beef temptation taking over me, I started thinking about what could have happened if had bowed to the temptation?
One the second week of my deliberation, one guy with chandan on his forehead and Shiva firmly trapped in his gold locket came to my work place. When I asked him for his order, he asked me for a triple cheese sandwich (for all of you, triple cheese is made with three beef patties and two slices of cheese). Hmm the look I gave him, I am sure even Lord Shiva he was so proud to carry around must have shuddered. I know it is none of my business, if he wants to eat let him do that. Still the combination of chandan, Shiva and beef was too much for me to handle. Anyway, he got what he wanted and left. I got my answer, if I bow to the temptation and go on the beef way, I will also the get same “How could you?” look from someone, who is crazy and confused enough to care what other people eat.
Where is this leading us? I see one Hindu eating beef; I give a look and keep quite. Someday I bow down to the pressure to fit in and follow the same path. And it goes on, one by one we all go on the path of forgetting our beliefs and accepting that we have to forget our roots to fit into this foreign land. So what do you say, to eat or not to eat??