We Indians don’t waste much. We recycle everything from newspapers to plastic packets and of course, food. Just this morning I recycled a small bowl of dosa aata (dough). There wasn’t enough to go around for the family – I did what I have seen my mom do, added some sooji (semolina), chopped onions, green chillies, fresh coriander and curry leaves and voila! We had yummy, crispy sooji dosas for breakfast. I have done the same with leftover rotis (just fry the rotis with the onions, add some chopped tomatoes, green chillies and spices, perhaps break in an egg, and a yummy snack is ready) and bread (to the bread I do add a potato!) and even idli (temper the borken idli pieces with some mustard seeds and a sprinkling of chutney powder and you have yummy idli upma!)
The point is, we may be over the era when India had to import food grains, but the ethos passed to us by that generation of Indians remains – food is precious and don’t waste a single grain of it. We of course extend that to every part of our lives! My 8 year old son is now aware that I frown if I find leftover food in his plate. I have tried teaching him not to serve himself more than he can eat. But he looks really puzzled when I ask him to keep carefully the gift wrapping that he has ripped off a gift. Well, I know that’s taking it a bit far, but the point is, why waste anything which can be re-used?
I started by saying we Indians don’t waste anything. But I am not so sure about my son’s generation. They are the generation of plenty. They may talk about recycling and swachch bharath, but how many of them will take a quick shower and save water or switch off the lights before leaving a room? Don’t most of them order what they want from a restaurant’s menu without even checking whether they can really finish it? As for me, I always carry a doggy bag home. It helps that we actually have a dog! Even if I didn’t, I would still ask for that doggy bag. You should too.