My favourite food is rice, sambar and vegetables. I eat it every day and I don’t get tired of it. I am a vegetarian, and so is my family.
Sooryanarayan, 57 years, Administrative Staff in a school, Bangalore
Interviewed by Joseph Colin
Why did you decide to give us an interview on food?
We need food on a daily basis. I eat thrice a day. Morning breakfast, afternoon meals, and night meals.
And this is very important for one to live…that’s why you decided to speak on food…
Are you a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian? What kind of food do you eat?
I am a pure vegetarian.
Do you also cook?
Yeah I can cook.
And is your whole family vegetarian or is it just you?
No no…my whole family is vegetarian.
Right from childhood?
Have you ever tasted non-vegetarian food?
Is it because of a religious reason or out of choice?
Right from the time of my birth, I have been eating only vegetarian food.
What kind of vegetarian food do you eat Sir?
Vegetarian means I eat rice, wheat, ragi and all types of dals.
Basically South Indian food…Do you experiment with North Indian or Chinese or Continental?
No…no…only South Indian. Sometimes I eat something different at work.
Do you also eat outside in restaurants?
No…no… nothing nothing.
So you eat just at home?
Only at home. Not outside.
Why not Sir? Why don’t you try eating out?
I don’t like it. That’s why.
So you have never eaten outside?
Very rare. If we are travelling, we will pack some food, and if we are staying outside for one or two days we will go to some good vegetarian hotel. Sometimes, if my family goes out, then they will prepare food and go. I will have coffee and breakfast in the hotel.
What do you think of non-vegetarians?
I don’t know (laughs). That is their food, so they will eat…they like non-vegetarian food, so they will eat. That’s all.
Have you been in a situation where everyone else was non-vegetarian and you were the only vegetarian?
If there was such a situation?
Nothing. I will eat separately. Last year there was a teachers’ meet. A teacher sitting next to me was eating non-vegetarian food and I was eating my vegetarian food.
You said you cook. What do you cook?
Rice, sambar, any vegetable like kurma (curry)…
Don’t you get bored of the same kind of food?
I don’t think so (laughs).
Even if you eat the same food everyday for years together…
No. I still won’t get bored.
Have you ever thought of experimenting with food from different cultures, take Thai food for example?
If I offer you Thai vegetarian food, will you have it?
It will be difficult to eat.
Next time I will invite you to eat it (Colin laughs). I am from Kerala. Kerala rice is especially very difficult to eat.
Yes, red rice…
Would you like to try it?
If it is rice, yeah…
Here’s a situation. You are hungry. There is nothing to eat and I am offering you Brazilian vegetarian food. Will you have it?
Yes, then I will have to. No other food you know…(laughs)
Now, the other situation is you have home-made food with you, and also Brazilian vegetarian food. Will you still try it out?
No…no…then I will eat my own food (laughs).
I think trying other cuisines is like an introduction to other cultures. Do you think it is not necessary to try out other cuisines or knowing other cultures? Or being open-minded? Is this a harsh question…
No…no…nothing like that. I haven’t ever tried it. That’s all. But I don’t mind others doing it.
That’s being open-minded… What’s your favourite food?
Rice, sambar, and some palya (sautéed vegetables) to go with it.
Do you have a favourite vegetarian restaurant?
No. No such place.
This last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Love is affection. That’s all. You can like people who help you or you work with, or your family. You can love animals…cow, dog, cat.
You mean to say you can extend love to animals?
Yes. I had cows in my village when I was a child.