Monday, 28 June 2010

The evil egg.

The doted upon only child was diagnosed with a protein deficiency. The doctor said she needed some kind of animal protein. This would be fairly easy for the most of us, but for Gujarati Jains this was like a bad joke. Let me provide some background here. Gujarati's are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group that originate in the state of Gujarat, in India. They are traditionally staunch vegetarians and can be religiously either Hindu or Jain. I won't elaborate about Hinduism. Jainism, is an ancient religion of India that prescribes a life of extreme non-violence and peaceful co-operative co-existence. In food terms, that means they are not only vegetarians, but do not even consume root vegetables like potatoes, onions, garlic etc, since these are the source of life and would need to be killed to consume these foods. If truth be spoken, this maybe the main focus of many practicing Jains in modern India, the rest being a lot more work. So the food part of it is fanatically, obsessively observed. These intricate differences, incidentally, are the decisive factor why modern day Indians still refer to origins and castes while choosing a partner. Imagine the complex institue of marriage being further challenged by Garlic butter fights!!

Ok, background provided. Are you getting why the need for animal protein for a Jain is a bad joke? But these were reasonable educated people, work had brought them to a modern thinking metropolitan like Bombay. They were good parents and now they had to provide their precious child with animal protein.
An egg, that was the solution! A neatly 'packaged' protein, it won't have to be handled, didn't have a raw messy, bloody form. They were told you could just drop the whole thing, as it is, into a pot of boiling water and it's done. So an egg was procured. A single egg to start with. It was brought home and then sat alone, in the never used circular slots in the door of the refrigerator. They didn't break the word to the elders in the family about the new addition to the pantry. That would have to be done gently. They were not ready to prepare it either, that would have to wait as well - till enough courage was mustered.
Ethnic groups, like everywhere in the world, tend to live in closely knit communities. India consists of such varying ethnicities internally, that the metropolitans, though consisting of few real foreigners, have similar communities. They are usually perfectly functioning social networks where people look out for each other, far from their cultural origins. Also a place where nothing goes unnoticed. It wasn't long before word trickled out about the egg amongst them. Other fellow Jains passed on muffled whispers about the 'impure' possession. Less and less neighbours came by on casual calls. Their friends found lame reasons not to dine at their home anymore. There was more, the elders in the house had caught on as well. There would be a lot of answering to do. As the good Jain family watched on, their popularity was fading fast, they were losing both family and friends. The egg was taking charge, silently and surely, taking control of their lives. Now every time the refrigerator door opened it stared back at them smugly. Sitting there, reigning coolly. While their world was turning upside down. If there ever was a doubt, this was proof of what such blasphemous behaviour brings upon. It was clear what had to be done. The protein deficiency was the devil in disguise. The egg it's evil accomplice. It had to go.

God bless the nice egg-eating colleague at work, there's no saving him anymore anyway! The evil egg was destroyed (and devoured) in egg hell, a sizzling hot pan!

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