My grandfather, whom I called Dadu, was a British Civil servant with the title Rai Bahadur , who spent all his service years suited booted and having his meals with knife and fork on dining tables. This I have not witnessed but heard from the older aunts and grandmother.
But immediately on his retirement shortly after the independence of India, he turned Bengali with a vengeance.
He wore only crisp dhoti kurtas, and had traditional Bengali meals sitting on the floor on an elaborate asan, or a woven mat of silk, in copper utensils in traditional design.
The meal was extremely elaborate, with the plate having a steaming cone of rice surrounded by savouries, and a host of smaller vessels surrounding the plate, each with a different item.
The room was a large hall with Ravi Verma paintings and family portraits on the walls, and my grandmother, also the daughter of a Civil Servant and Rai Bahadur, who was educated in a convent by European ladies ,sat
in front watching him eat and urging him to try this or that, while the person serving hovered around just outside waiting for summons for second helpings.
Whenever we were staying over at his place, I too would be sitting next to him with a smaller plate.
The men were usually at work, and the ladies ate after we finished.
Dadu ate only a small portion of the elaborate meal, and finished it by drinking a bowl of milk.
The leftover food was apparently eaten by the help, a fact that shocked me even then, but apparently not the beneficiaries or others in the household.
On the rare occasions when my father was there, he took only a little and finished everything, which he taught me to do.
All these traditions were discontinued after he passed away
Nowadays we sometimes have these elaborate meals in fine dining Bengali restaurants on special occasions, but the plates are not the same, and no grandmother sitting in front urging us to eat more, but the LOH and kids commenting on the calorie count and my girth, and urging me to eat less