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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carnivorous Brahmin.... Lol

A comment by a friend on one of my notes regarding Camel meat  made me come up with these incidents in my life and the experience of having camel meat. We are from a middle class Brahmin family where non vegetarian food is abhorred and in more traditional families even the root vegetable and onions are not cooked at home. Since my parents were staying out of Tamilnadu  were not that traditional but then only vegetarian food including potatoes, Onions etc. However my mother used to make me drink milk and raw egg as I was puny looking boy those days and my my it was a punishment for I used to gag while drinking for the taste used to be bad....aahhh.
Friends during school days with whom I used to go hunting for birds using  catapult  and sometimes air rifle( whenever my friends brother was in town for he used to own one) and felled bird was cooked over fire and eaten by them and yet I never ventured trying eating non vegetarian food.
I was initiated to non vegetarian food by one of my hostel roommate during the first year of engineering. As you know Shivaratri festival is celebrated in Karnataka quite extensively there and during my first year there the mess closed down on that particular day so that the mess workers can conduct the pooja.  I was feeling very hungry and was not knowing how to quell the same and then one of my roommate who was a Srilankan Christian said that we could go the shop outside the campus and have some bread with meat. My hunger was too intense that I agreed and at the same time was thrilled that I am going to try non vegetarian dish. So off we went and he ordered chilly beef and bread slices.... seeing the dish I was in jitters but my friend coaxed me saying that it is good and just clear your mind and have the same. It was an experience chewing the rubbery beef...... my first no vegetarian dish at the age of 17. My second dish on the same day was fried crabs which I crunched and munched without any second thoughts for it was quite tasty...... and so started my carnivorous journey !!!  I even joined the non vegetarian mess few times during the course of my engineering studies ( because it was costlier than the vegetarian mess and my father used to send the same amount of money each month i.e. mess bill of around Rs 90.00 to 100.00 + 25.00 for other expenses)
In  the year 1981 I took up a job with a Bombay based construction firm having a township project at Baghdad .  Completed the joining formalities at Bombay and met my new friends with whom I was to travel on 6th April 1981. Those days there was no direct flight to Baghdad on account of Iraq – Iran war and our option was to fly to Kuwait and from there drive down to Baghdad by road arranged by the airlines itself. We landed in Kuwait airport early hours of 7th April and we were loitering around the transit lounge till such time the airlines arranged for a bus to take the passengers travelling to Baghdad. We were told that airlines will take care of food till such time we reach Baghdad but then Air India personnel hardly did anything to the nine of us except for a coffee and sandwich for breakfast at Kuwait and  box for each of us consisting of a sandwich, apple and a canned fruit juice for the onward travel which was to be just under 12 hours of drive.
As it normally happens we were held up in the Saffa border for over 6 hours and we had no clue of the reasons thereof as we did not understand the language (spoken) by the driver. Finally crossed the border into Iraq at about 9pm and already most passengers in the bus were hungry... the box was eaten for the lunch in afternoon and around 10.30 pm the bus stopped in  front of a single storey building and driver told us that we could get something to eat in sign language.  Entered the building we noticed that there were no tables and the driver along with his associate was sitting down on the earthen floor and was eating some kind of huge  roti taken out of a tandoor....... known as khaboos.
Well all of us sat down and we had to part with nearly 10 dollars in advance for food for all the nine of us. Once the payment done three bowls of meat curry was placed in front of us and fresh khaboos was just dumped beside us on the floor .Imagine our feelings that we need to eat the khaboos lying in mud...... well the Iraqis never even gave a thought... they just picked up the khaboos and dusted the same and started eating and we did the same .................. it does prove that a hungry man would eat anything. Surprisingly the curry and the meat was good and we enjoyed a hearty meal, however the meat was different. On enquiring we were told it is the camel’s meat ..... a delicacy in the Middle east. Again a different kind of experience compared to my initiation to being carnivorous !!!!!