The theory of the Black Hole states that in the Hole, time and space don’t exist. So if you’ve entered this hole, you can take as long as you want to get ready, and you can store as many suitcases, with clothes you will never wear, above the cupboard (don’t deny it; if you are Indian, you have them somewhere in the house).
Another theory that seems to exist along these lines is the Theory of Halves. In a recent trip to India, I came to develop this theory. At meals, we all know that the cook would be insulted if the food was served cold. So of course at breakfast when she made the paraathas (Indian breakfast tortilla for you non-Indian people) she would bring them out one by one. With three of us at the table the first paraatha came out and it started on cue, “No, no you take the first one,” the first person insisted, while the second retaliated with, “It’s okay, I’m not that hungry. You can start,” gesturing with the two hands forward as though pushing the plate away.
Now that both polite excuses have been made, the third person then jumps in with his Noble Peace Prize for humanitarian effort idea of, “Okay you split it in half and I’ll wait for the next one.” Not to be outdone, the other two parties join forces and jump in shaking their head and finger vigorously indicating this is unacceptable and then insist that the paraatha be split into three pieces. At this point we have one minute remaining before the next paraatha comes out and the cook discovers that the first one has been untouched and getting cold, which insults her no end. A quick executive order is issued and it is split into three pieces and distributed for immediate consumption. The three-piece split was done because as Indians we are a polite bunch of people, and we would hate for anyone to think otherwise of us!
As the meal went on the paraathas just kept on coming, and we kept eating. Half hour had passed by and we were still eating. Now estimate that she takes two minutes to make one paraatha. At the end of half hour she would have made 15, and between three of us, that would… uh hold on:
30 minutes/ 2minutes per paraatha = 15 paraathas
15 paraathas/ 3 of us = 5 paraathas per person
Figure 1: Calculation of Paraatha Consumption per person within 30 minutes.
Wow, I can’t ever recall eating this much and still not feeling as though my mother was behind me putting food in my plate, complaining that I don’t eat enough and that I have lost weight. The following morning the same occurred, and so it went on for the duration of the trip.
At first I came to the conclusion that it must have been that the paraathas were either really small or we were really hungry, because in India you just get hungrier than you normally would (please refer Theory of Getting Hungrier in India). But my conclusions were laid to rest after I returned home.
Having eaten paraathas for an extended period of time, when I was back home I suffered Paraatha Withdrawals — a stiff elbow from not constantly moving it as you dip your paraatha into the yogurt or pickle, the slightly burnt fingertips from trying to pick up and tear off a piece of the hot paraatha and constantly salivating while waiting for the next one to be brought in. I decided to cook some to address my withdrawals (Yes, I can cook. Okay they were frozen, but I still had to cook ‘em). Hmmm, three paraathas… hope it’s enough!
As I began to eat, there was something mysterious in the air. No, it wasn’t something I released ‘accidentally’. I was half way through the first paraatha and I was getting that feeling again, that feeling of my mother standing behind me dishing food into my plate against my will. I was getting full. Nearing the end of the first one, I found myself struggling to finish it. This was impossible, I thought! How could this be? This is only a fraction of what I have been able to consume in the past. What was the reason behind the loss of appetite? As a skilful trained scientist (PhD from the prestigious Lady of No Hope Institute of Higher Learning), I started to investigate.
What parameters had remained the same was the issue I first wanted to address. Was it the size of the paraathas? Using the International Paraatha Measuring Device, implemented at the last International Paraatha Convention held in Phagawara, India, I deduced that the paraathas were of the same size and thickness.
Next I had to address the fact that I was not in India. However, my kitchen, like any other Indian’s kitchen, smelt like India. You know the smell; garam masala, curry powder and dhania. With the scent of mother India reminiscent in the air, my mind was convinced that I was still in India. So with that in mind, I was able to rule out that as being the cause of my instant satiety.
Feeling like an anorexic at an eating convention, I was lost. I still hadn’t half an idea or even half a clue. I would give half of anything for half a shot at half of an idea. As I rubbed my fingers together to gather inspiration, half of the skin came off as a result of being burnt. Then it hit me. I was a polite Indian, and being a polite Indian meant I had to share, which means I had to tear it in half! I was not getting full fast back there because I was eating in halves! That, my fellow readers, is how I arrived to my “Theory of Half”. So if you want to cut down on the amount you eat it is advised best not to cut in half otherwise you will eat more than you should.