The Social Pressure of Lunching

Except for this one time when I used to lunch with a group of boys at work, I have always been under great social pressure when it comes to eating lunch. Lunch groups are an eccentric phenomenon. 

On my first day at a new job, I always will the lunch hour to not come until I get bored of reading the documents and start willing otherwise. Lunch hour at new places is awkward. I do not want to be seen alone because people always stare at the new comers. I do not know which clique to approach and beg to let me join them. I feel like a school kid all over again. However, as the time passes I end up joining the person sitting next to me or the person I work with and then begins the vicious phenomenon of formation of a lunch group. Every damn time, regardless of the company, the job profile, heck…regardless even of the country.

Currently, I work from three different locations. I usually hop between these offices every twenty to thirty days. After almost three months, I have been successful in making friends in two of these places. In my current location, I lunch with a fellow compatriot. She sneaks up to the roof garden with her packed lunch and I get my strictly vegetarian (for her benefit) lunch packed from the nearby food court and join her. Every now and then, I get bored of my boiled rice and bland veggies and wish to devour some Korean or Japanese grub also available down the street. I can very well do this by joining two friendly colleagues who go to fun places for lunch every day. But telling my usual lunch partner that I want to abandon her for some heathen food, Oh.My.God. This is always taken personally.

Then there are certain days when my boss is around and he asks me to join him and a couple of other folks for lunch. I can sense those multiple glares from folks who get packed lunch and hence are left out of what they think is an invitation to a power lunch. While we walk to some close by food court, talk about random stuff, but mostly eat our food in silence, the impression in the minds of those left out is that I have scored a few brownie points during those forty minutes. On my return, I am relentlessly questioned about upcoming projects, office politics, new hires, and anything else that could be considered of value. While I truthfully tell them that the only work related discussion was about the inappropriate placement of the toilets, they look at me with an injured expression that says, “Go ahead and lie to us, you meat-eating black spot on the name of Indians!”

Therefore, it is no surprise that my happiest lunch hour is the one when I walk to the mall and order a mini shabu-shabu. All by myself.


2 Responses to “The Social Pressure of Lunching”

  1. […] When I came in first the most problematic timing was the lunch. You never knew where to go. In fact I believe it mostly is in any new place and even in older places. One excellent piece on this scenario which is very close to my experience is described in an excellent manner at this blog. […]

  2. “Every damn time, regardless of the company, the job profile, heck…”
    You said it exactly – just what I feel about the trouble of lunching at office.

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