I don’t remember how it started, but when I was about 4, I was taught to say “no mention please” every time someone said Thank you to me. Over the years, more items were added to the list of manners. When we visit someone and they offer something to eat, however tasty it is, I was only allowed to take a tiny bit and never a second serve. Often if we were invited for dinner we had to eat dinner at our home, so we won’t pig out at the host’s place. I also had to leave some coffee in the cup ( which was really hard for me to do, for the sugar available in India was really granular and didn’t dissolve completely and you always found a thick syrupy sugar at the bottom of the cup..my favourite)
I remember the time my sisters and I were travelling on Air India flight and we were put up an Centaur hotel in Delhi when our flight was cancelled. It was such an exciting time. My youngest sister being the most adventurous of us all, decided to use the flatware like all the other posh people who were eating in that restaurant. Unfortunately she chose to eat a fried chicken drum stick with a knife and fork. One minute the fried chicken was in her plate, the next minute, it flew across the table.
I met most of my cousins for the first time on my trip to US and since I was only in Philly for 4 days and didn’t have time to visit everyone, I opted to take everyone out for a meal in a western restaurant. ( I have been travelling for 5 weeks on the road and I was dying for something Indian and my cousins didn’t understand why I would want to go out and eat Indian food, when you can eat it at home ! )
This is what I found the person facing me doing. She ordered a burger. First she tried to use the knife and fork and cut the burger, she obviously didn’t do a good job, so she lifted the whole burger with her fingers and tried to eat it, since it was already butchered with the knife, fillings started to progressively follow the law of gravity. It was such an unholy mess. She is 19, born and raised in US and can’t even eat a burger properly.
In my sister’s case, she spend most of her growing years in India where using a flatware was not part of our life. But if you are living outside India, especially in first world countries where table etiquette is really important, parents ought to teach children how to use a knife and fork.
( btw, just for the record, my cousin’s idea of cutting the burger is fine, you just need to make a neat cut and divide the burger in to 4 quarters or you can simply hold the burger in your hand and eat)