I got up this morning and went to have breakfast. I took the spoon in my hand and automatically, without me having to think or direct my hand, it moved to one corner of the plate to pick up food instead of plunging in the centre. That's the way I always eat hot (temperature wise of course) food. Its been a habit for years now! I look back wondering when I started eating that way and what inspired me to change my "style" of tackling food. The thought takes me back in time... Many many years ago
I was a big fan of the comic Tinkle. Erm... I still am. The difference is that we stopped subscription long time back so now a days I read some of the tinkle books that I saved and kept in my book collection. Back then, I used to get the magazine every fortnight. I can't remember correctly, but I think the magazine was fortnightly and the digest was monthly. Anyways, whatever it was, I remember there used to be a section in the very beginning where Uncle Pai would write a short story with a moral. I rarely ever read that :P One day however, I decided to give it a try. It was a short story based on an incident that took place in Maharana Pratap Singh's (yes... the grat Rajput king! history comes to life!) life. And oh, before I start the story, some interesting JUST happened. I googled Maharana Pratap to find a suitable link and as I scrolled down the first page of the results, I found an IMDB link which actually left me wondering for a while if the great Maharana acted in a few movies before he went on to challenge the rule of Akbar :P Took me a couple of seconds to realise that it was just a movie ON the king and not with the actual king IN it! Stupid, I know :P :P :P
The great Maharana had just been defeated by the Mughals in one of his attempts to capture a key fort. He was forced to wander around the forests in disguise while he attempted to recruit people into his army. One day, around lunch time, he found a small hut. The hungry king went and knocked on the door. An old woman appeared. She didn't recognise the visitor as Maharana (obviously!) since he was in a disguise. Maharana Pratap asked the old lady if she could spare him some food for lunch. The lady was delighted to have guest and welcomed him in and offered to serve him lunch. She brought out a plate and put hot rice and some hot dhal in the rice. The hungry king plunged his hand in the centre of the plate but ended up burning his fingers! The old lady started laughing. The king looked up and asked "you find it amusing that I am in pain?" to which she replied saying, "Oh no! Please do not mistake me so! I was just thinking to myself that you are no better than the great Maharana Pratap himself!". To this, Maharana asked, "what have I done that reminds you of that unfortunate king?". She replies, "He tried to take over a key fort, just like how you tried to pick hot rice from the centre of the plate. That is why he lost the battle and now you have burnt your fingers. When served with a plate full of hot rice, you must tackle your food from the edge of the plate as rice would have cooled more there than the centre. From the edges, you must work inside if you want to keep your fingers from getting burnt. This applies not just to eating habits. Everywhere in life, you will find this useful. For example, if the great Maharana, instead of attacking the key fort first, had attacked and taken over the smaller forts in the surrounding region, the key fort would be left defenseless by the time he finally got there. Instead, the great Maharana seems to have made the mistake of plunging his hand in the centre of the plate. Attacking the smaller problems in life before taking on the bigger challenges doesn't make you any lesser of a man. It will in fact, help you achieve success in everything you do in life". The Maharana got more than a filling meal that afternoon in the old lady's hut. He later went on to capture the key fort, of course, after bringing down the smaller ones in the region.
Since I read that story, I've always made it a point to eat from the edges of the plate and move inside! Whether or not I have learnt to tackle the smaller problems in life before taking on the big challenges, I do not know. Perhaps in my academic life, I have. And maybe even while solving 1000 piece puzzles! I guess I am still plunging my hand in the centre of the plate in other aspects of life. I will learn soon to tackle stuff from the edge and work my way inside. Soon!!! It took me so many years to shape my eating habits! Just need a little more time to shape other stuff :)