Slurping

Mansur Qureshi

Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old. -- Mary H. Waldrip

Never have children, only grandchildren. -- Gore Vidal

If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren,
I'd have had them first.
-- Lois Wyse

When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window. -- Ogden Nash

The the first three sayings quoted above are a true reflection of the adoration of grandparents for their grandchildren. This spirit is reciprocated in majority of the cases and parents usually feel very happy about this relationship. However, Ogden Nash's words cause a teeny weeny bit of anxiety among some parents who see their own good work in maintaining discipline undone by the attitude of some grandparents. And that is not the only concern they have as the following true, though trivial, incident illustrates.

We were sitting round the table having soup and gossip. During a few seconds lull in conversation our four year old granddaughter Aurora made the following announcement with a glint in her eyes:

"Now I am going to slurp my soup like granddad."

Farah pretended that she had not heard it but gave me an admonishing sideways glance. My slurping stopped as if by magic and my soup eating became a model of civilised etiquette. After a minute or two Farah non-chalantly offered her daughter this advice: "Look how granddad is eating his soup. You should do it the same way." Crisis over !

But it got me thinking. In my younger days, I, along with others, used to be critical of the not uncommon habit amongst some elderly members of the family of slurping their tea, particularly after pouring it into the saucer (cups and saucers in those days; mugs had not been invented yet!). Disgusting habit or what? Now, in ripe old age, I am not so sure. Could slurping one's tea and soup be a pleasurable pursuit?

It is claimed that slurping has a positive advantage. It facilitates drinking of hot tea or soup without having to wait for it to cool down and enhances its taste. And not every society looks down upon slurping. Actually just the opposite, according to www.activechinese.com :

"Though in Western culture it is considered impolite to make any sort of noise while eating, it is very acceptable in China to slurp your noodles. This is the case not only in casual settings with friends, but even in formal settings or business meetings. So when you order noodles, don't be shy! Slurp away!".

An excited young lady asks on the internet:

"Is this true? I also heard of the same habit in Japan. Anyway, I like it, because now I can throw away all that 'pretend-to-be-a-lady' thing and enjoy my favourite noodles!"

Here are a couple more quotes which are relevant:

"In Japan and Hong Kong, slurping soup is a sign of approval and appreciation
of the cooking. But slurping is considered rude in Thailand. ..."
(Norine Dresser, Multicultural Manners, 1996.)

"To slurp or not to slurp? That is the question taxing Japanese society as the young cast aside traditional etiquette in favour of Western lifestyles. Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister, slurps when he eats noodles, as do most male members of his cabinet, but noisy eaters are a dying breed in Japan, where a vogue for eating noodles silently is taking hold." (Robert Whymant: 'Slurping divides Japanese eaters': The London Times: 6/7/2001.)

Would you take the following advice so temptingly offered by someone on the internet?

"Forget everything your (Western) mother taught you about soup. The Japanese way is much more fun. You're supposed to slurp to cool down the hot soup. You can pick up the bowl and drain the soup."
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