I can still vividly recall the first time I was invited to an event during my first year at University that included a ‘free buffet lunch.’ Having lived off ready meals for a large proportion of the first few months of my time at University like any other fresher, I was rather looking forward to some proper food to fill my belly. After two weeks of eagerly counting down to the day, you can probably imagine my sense of disappointment when I was presented with a selection of sandwiches and cold cuts of meat. My mind was swirling with thoughts of a hot and filling meal and I think I still have not fully recovered from my sudden loss of hope and excitement at that exact moment nearly five years ago.
Over the years, I have realized that due to the high cost of labour in Britain, any service that involves extensive physical human contact is immediately more expensive than a service which does not. This is, of course, a secondary effect from having a limited population when compared to developing nations as well as a guaranteed minimum standard of living for the entire population, courtesy of the government. Setting out a proper meal involves a chef and sous chef while sandwich/cold cuts can be mass made or bought off a shelf to be presented beautifully.
However, my realization still has not made me accept this as a proper meal. While I am sure my British compatriots are satisfied with this offering, my Indian upbringing has made me feel that a buffet serving anything below a full spread involving rice and a range of accompaniments is unacceptable. When you can get a hot fairly large meal with fantastic service for the equivalent of a British Pound in India, you will have to shell out a significant sum of money to get the same food – and probably a level of service that won’t even come close.
But that’s a part of life – a part of living in a developed nation and I won’t complain about it. That’s how life is here and that’s how it will continue to be. But it is times like this I sorely miss home. My mind, soul and body longs for a place I belong in. A place where no matter what happens, I have no reason to fear. A place I can call home. Home.
In a strange twist of fate and longing, I am going to back to Hyderabad in a few days. I will be probably be spending a couple of months at home for some much-needed R&R and of course, a fair bit of fantastic food. It was largely a spur of the moment decision but I think it is definitely needed seeing as it is just about a year since I have last been in India.
Currently listening to – A Sort of Homecoming (Live) by U2