One of the great honors in India is getting invited home for a meal. It is a sincere expression of friendship and a fantastic way to build some high-level relational capital.
But getting invited is just the first step. Now an even bigger challenge awaits you, one that no one has ever conquered before in the India experience.
Eating enough food to make your host happy.
When you eat with an Indian family, and especially when the mother, or woman of the house, has prepared the meal, you want to make her happy. She is very happy when you eat plenty of food.
But this brings up one of the most difficult Catch-22’s I’ve ever encountered. The host is happy when you eat all the food on your plate. But if you eat all the food, you immediately get another full plate. However, if you do not eat all the food, the host is sad because it suggests you don’t like the food.
To make it worse, the host has an extremely short memory. Even if you are working on your fourth plate, and you can’t finish it or your stomach will burst, the host may still think you didn’t like it. The number of plates you eat doesn’t count. The only plate that matters is the one in front of you. If it’s empty, you get more. If it’s not empty, you didn’t like it. (This is an extreme generalization.) [Read more…]