Chopsticks have always intrigued me. They look disconcertingly similar to knitting needles. Now you knit up in your mind the old wizened lady lovingly using both her hands, sitting in a rocking chair by the fire and knitting a warm sweater. I hate to dish it to the old lady like this, but you only can use only one hand, use both needles and knit the same beautiful sweater OL. Go on old lady. Try. Try like the dickens. How does that sound?
That is exactly what eating with chopsticks seems to me. You are given two condiments, you have two hands. Simple? Not simple. The technique is simple, any child brought up on Chinese food in a Chinese setting will tell you how easy it is to use chopsticks. All you have to do is grasp the sticks like this.
Then, move finger number two by using finger number one as the lever/rudder. (When you are trying to keep the sticks afloat in a bowl of watery soup, you are allowed to use the word rudder). Let’s get back to technique now that the use of rudder has been explained.
During the entire process, finger number three is jammed between the sticks, and is expected to move in the same angle maintaining a level of parallelism with finger number two. Never mind that finger number 3 is screaming for respite by now. That demand cannot be met. Ignore finger number 3. It can start acting up midway through the process, and you will be stuck with a finger-chiropractor, soothing function back to it. Don’t worry, it is a part of life. I realise there is no such profession as a finger-chiropractor, so if you would kindly tell me the name of one such specialist, I will gladly update the post.
The trick is to be firm with finger number 3. Show it fingers number 4 & 5 as a method of consolation. Fingers 4 and 5 are in a worse state. They can’t move remember?
Also remember that while one is fiddling with these sticks in the soup, the soup is turning cold. Not to mention the odd contours on the face as lines of worry and concentration contort it into a horrible frown. One would think, that not being able to function with chopsticks will have sent the author home hungry and dejected, with a new sense of purpose – learning to use the sticks before the next soup stop.
Not so…not so! Mere technicalities like chopsticks don’t deter me. I creased out the lines of concentration, ironed out the frown and put on a smile. I then attacked the soup like this.
People were looking at me with awe. Pretty soon, I could see folks cast me the envious look. Their eyes screamed the obvious “Why didn’t the Chinese think of it?”
I refused to wipe the smug smile of my stupid face, and went on eating like this, till a waiter who was charging about the vicinity like a racing bull, stopped in his tracks. You know how these cars screech when they sudden brake? Something like that.
“Next time – fork okay? I give fork okay?” he said.
I shrugged – I’d already mastered chopsticks now, who cares for forks?