Saturday, May 31, 2014

(E)ating Alone

There is saying that Eat as if everyone is watching you and Dance as if no one is. The first makes one conscious of the amount being consumed and the latter makes one footloose and fancy free. I do both as if the whole world is watching me. It does not help me in the dancing department since I become very shy. I wish I could enjoy and get into moving and shaking as easily as I see some others do. I am also very shy of eating alone in public places. I do not feel as if the whole world is watching me when I am eating in the privacy of my home - which does not help since I am not at all mindful of the calories being consumed. But God forbid if I have to eat alone at a workplace eatery or restaurant.

I am not sure how and where this started. The earliest I can remember is when I was in hostel. In the first year, we were a group of 17 girls who used to stay in a dorm. There would be some one or the other who could give me company during the meals. When we moved to rooms, I had 2 other girls living with me. Since they were from the core branch, their timings of classes were different from mine. We could never have our lunches together. Dinners, we were a troupe. Ashu who was the one I gelled most with, did not have her meals at the hostel since she resided with her local guardian. I have another idiosyncrasy of not being comfortable eating with any person. I should have a rapport and a bonding with him/her. There were sometimes when I had to eat lunch alone. I am not sure why, but I was super uncomfortable doing so. I opted for eating much later when the cafeteria would be deserted. Thank fully I became fast friends with Basu. She was a wonderful, funny gal who had the most frank nature. She was a silent companion and comforter for me. She and I developed a routine, and we  used to wait  on each other no matter what the other person's routine. Soon by our final year Ashu was way more regular in the hostel and I never had to eat alone in the hostel ever again. I remember our final meal in the cafeteria, Basu burst out crying and Ashu and I followed cue. It was the very last time we broke bread together. It has been a decade and it would be the stuff of dreams if we could ever have a meal as a trio. 

When I started working in my first company, I had no companions(Seems like the theme of my life). I had no projects either and had to spend most of my time sitting in the library. The librarian was a lovely middle aged lady, who too had the similar trait of not liking having her meals alone. I started going for lunches with her, but soon realized that our rhythms were different. She had her food way later ( which was more due to the duration she had to keep the library open and hence could leave for lunch at 1400 only), and she used to take a long time to decide, eat very slowly and later crib about what she chose (I some how do not like criticizing the food one eats. Once in a while its ok, but on a daily basis is a bit annoying. ) I  started having lunches on my own. I hated it. So I used to go at 1430 - an annoyingly late time taking into consideration the early breakfast,  which consequently wrecked havoc on my gastro-intestinal system. My next work place was very open. Every one minded their own business and was very cool. There would be tables near the vending machines where I used to have my lunch. One day, a girl came up to me and asked if I had my lunches alone and if she could join me. I said of course! Since there were televisions near by, we did not have to engage in much conversation. In due course a friendship evolved.  We  have been able to keep in touch and have been able to providentially help each other a lot! 

In Chennai, I noticed people eating all by themselves in cafes. I even saw strangers sharing a table if there was a scarcity. I never judged them, but was always amazed by it. Why couldn't I do the same? What was so scary in eating alone for me? It is only eating after all. In the UK, I have seen the practice even more. People sit and surf, read, talk over the phone - all alone. I agree, with some sort of a prop like a book, a phone or a kindle I am much better off eating alone. Still, I would prefer the most remote corner, my back to the entrance and wish no one I know sees me. I have some instances where I have to do so at work, I eat in a rush and beat my retreat. Any day I would prefer eating at my desk - very stealthily :) 

I hope one day I am able to get rid of this weird feature. Do any of you feel the same (I will not be surprised if  the answer is a resounding no :D )  


Amrita Roy said...

I would resound the question with a YES.

During my whole school life my brother would eat lunch with me an dinner would be a whole family affair :) happy days those were .

I hate eating alone (unless its pizza night in front of the tv) ,rather I hate eating alone in public .. it just seems so morose ... though there are people who can manage just fine .

For me only a known face will do to sit with that person , anything to avoid eating alone :)
As long as a friend is there ,
what do we fear :)

Ashma said...

Yes I also dont like eating alone 😞
Initially I used to hate it; in office, if I didnt get company, i used to skip lunch. When I went to US, i got used to having my breakfast alone (i used to bring it to my desk).

I am better now; at office I dont mind eating alone since breakfast about one day a week I start alone only, some days I meet known ppl, sone days its just me.

Havent had to try eating alone at a restaurant yet, and I hope I never have to 😊

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