Lunch Time

I am finding it tricky as I try to compare my experiences and life styles that I encountered from two different continents. I do not know if my readers will be able to understand me. Moreover, my recent journey is an unusual one as most Indian travels east to west while I moved from west to east.

During my stay at Paris for last 3 and half years, most of my lunch at work was at shared corporate cafeteria between three companies. I appreciated the price, quality of that food always particularly the desserts and varieties of yogurts available there. May be I understand, why French cuisine is considered to be world’s most refined cuisine. Unfortunately, I am not a food critic that I can pen down those exotic tastes to get water in your mouth. But as I think about them I roll my tongue ;)

In general, breakfast in France is a small affair consisting of croissants & bread rolls with some butter and jam to spread which is usually accompanied by milky coffee or hot chocolate or café noir. Since there is no set time for breakfast in France it makes them bit hungry by noon :) . Le déjeuner (lunch) was once a two hour mid-day meal but has recently seen a trend toward the one hour lunch break.

It is common at corporate world to be given lunch vouchers as part of their employee benefits. These can be used in most restaurants, supermarkets and traiteurs; however people having lunch in this way typically do not eat all three dishes of a traditional lunch due to price and time considerations. A sandwich followed by a dessert is quite commonly seen and can be found ready-made at bakeries and supermarkets, cafes, bistros or restaurants. Even many restaurants, offer a lower priced prix fixe menu at lunch which is not available in the evening.

It is common in France for someone wishing you “Bon Appetite” if he/she realizes that you are going to have food as you take the exit from office door or lift at noon while in India we hardly say anything before starting our meal. Rather I believe there is no exact translation even in Anglo-Saxon culture for “Bon Appetite” but it does exist in Latin culture in some form or other like in Spanish or Italian lingo.

I have been a silent participator for most of the times as I use to feel shy to communicate with my linguistic skill of French. These three pictures are the only I have from all those lunch time I had with my colleagues. These were taken at very end of our stay with Pamela’s new phone camera. I always felt that I was going to miss those lunch hours if I move out of Paris; now I write about them before they become distant memory.

At my current location in Bombay we do not have any in-house cafeteria at our office (a small office compared to Paris). There are plenty of restaurants around to choose from or I can order for lunch at my desk. With the last one you can work as you take a bite. I am sure any health freak will tell that it is not good for soul and body. Food is supposed to be taken properly so that you chew and eat in peace while a meal in France is not simply a moment dedicated to the nourishment of the body; it is indeed a time for social and even spiritual replenishment.

In Modern India, where average work hours are getting longer and people are slogging more at work. This may be very disturbing social and physiological changes and might have adverse effect as the dynamic working population grow older.


Sophie Baillieul said…
Salut Santanu ! Your blog is very sympathetic and the photo are pretty. That made more than two months that you started from Paris and I learned that you were always in the Group but in Bombay, but what do you make like job? The photo of our many lunches to the canteen are great, me also (considering my bad spoken English skills! ) I was rather timid in my conversations with you, but the main thing is to appreciate itself. Cheers to Pamela and you. Sophie
Eric VO said…
Hi santanu!

I see with pleasure that you don't forget our important and very sympathic lunch times! You are right in French food is very important and there is a "style of life" in our culture about food. It's terrible what's you are explaining us about your lunch time :-(

Please don't forget the great pleasure to take time for nothing else but time ... our discussion about politics, society, sport, culture, or everything going accross our minds! Nothing is more important that to take time to live!

For my self I appreciate that pamela and you have find a new life in india; I hope you will take time for you and to live!

I'm very happy that you don't need to bear any more useless story of our old 9 floor; take time to live is the more important think you must only remember good thinks and good times ...

For me the life is going better and better : i was fired from 9 Floor and will be definitivelly out of this company in 3 months (still at home, they don't want me at the desk :-D) : so I write every days and read all the books i can find in my library!

It is very late and I must go sleeping ... see you soon !!

Give Pamela my best regards.

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