While reading A House for Mr Biswas, I came across a character called Hari, a brother-in-law of Mr Biswas.He was a quiet, religious man who 'was obsessed with his illnesses, his food and his religious books.' He was a pundit by training and inclination who sometimes conducted puja for family and friends.( This Hari once performed some puja in a house that Mr Biswas was living in and blessed it. After that Mr Biswas found that his business kept coming down so he keeps asking if Hari can "un-bless" his house!) From the boook:
Between his estate duties, his reading in the verandah and his visits to the latrine, Hari had little free time, and was open to approach only at the long table. But then conversation was not easy. Hari believed in chewing every mouthful forty times, and was a noisy and preoccupied eater.This strange habit of Hari reminded me of a friend of mine in REC Trichy (now NIT Trichy). He was a religious Brahmin and a strict vegetarian. (He had a fun way of humming a well--known Malayalam song. He did not know the words but he got the tune by humming unintelligible words.) He used to throw a certain number of cooked rice grains (I don't remember how many) from his plate over his head to a spot behind him before beginning his meals. (I have not seen anyone else do this.)
I met him some years later in Bangalore and we went to a restaurant for dinner. Knowing about his vegetarian preferences,I ordered some vegetarian dishes for myself. He then gave his order - butter chicken and naan! I literally fell out of my chair as I watched him tucking into his food with obvious relish. He told me that it was about a year since he started sinning. And no, his parents didn't know that he had become pally with the devil.
So there we were, sitting in a restaurant in Bangalore with the Tam Brahm (Tamil Brahmin) munching contentedly on flesh and me chewing plants.