When I was a school kid, elders in house used to impose dos and don’ts for almost all daily activities. As one among you guys, I found hidden pleasure in violating the dos and experimenting with don’ts. Whenever they found the kids were not doing things as suggested, they used a proverb – ‘Moothavar chellum muthu nellika adhyam kaikkum pinne madhurikkum’ [Advises from elders are like gooseberries, its first taste is sour but it gets sweet later]. But who cares?
As part of Kerala culture, we used to have sadhya [Feast] for almost all festivals, family gatherings etc…. These feasts are mainly served with vegetarian dishes [called curry] and served in plantains. We kids used to serve the dishes for elder people and guests. My Grandma used to say, there are specific location for each dish and it should be served in those specific location in the plantain. It was very difficult for me to digest, what will happen if those location changes? It is totally illogical for me to follow such an advice.
Years later, I got opportunity to work in software design and development. As part of career, I came to know about User Interface Design concepts like Accessibility, Usability etc… , at that time those concepts were eye openers for me.
Now I can relate the accessibility and usability concepts in my Grandma’s advice on positioning of dishes. As per the order she told, less frequently used dishes like pickles, chips, banana etc…marked 7 to 14 in the picture were to be served at the left top corner of the plantain which is the most difficult position to reach in the plantain. Frequently used curries – marked 1 to 6 in the picture – were to be served in the right top area of the plantain and rice – main dish – have to be served in the middle portion of the plantain. That makes easy access for those who are sitting in front of the plantain.
As part of the culture, there is lot of importance in keeping the guests happy by serving tasty food in friendly manner. Specific locations for dishes might have came from that mindset but I was not good enough to understand that in my school days.