We were four from different cultures and backgrounds sitting around a table looking forward to a great meal at a Pakistani restaurant in the old town. What we got was enough food to satisfy our bodies and our souls.
The enjoyable experience, like those I’ve had with Persian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisines, resembled a trip: A journey with many destinations. The beginning is one, but the end is not. As we indulged in the diversity of the food and company, I started thinking about our modern life and how fast things have been going at all levels. This is the era of speed and shallowness, expressed poignantly in the culture of fast food.
The gathering brought together this curious Mediterranean with a visiting Dutch young man and his Indian lady friend, along with an African American on a short break from duty in Kandahar. Although we met up for the culinary experience, we ended up having a homo-sapian connection of the rare kind these days.
For a while, it felt like going back in history and reaching mysterious places inside the soul and mind. The senses were awake, savoring the moment, living the enjoyment. Every single item on the table had its own distinct taste that made the meal feel like a trip.
When we were done eating I felt as if I had just gotten back from a far away place or from a dream filled with myths. It was a good opportunity to experiment with the senses in this new culture.
On the other hand, I tried to think of the last time I had fast food. I couldn’t remember what it tasted like or how it looked.
Fast food is the staple of our modern times. I don’t mean this in a positive way. Quite the contrary: I think we’ve become boring and constantly unsatisfied as a result of the culture of fast food.
We live in a fast era where everything is fast: Our days go by so quickly, our relationships come and go at the speed of light, our friendships are as shallow as the moments we spend building them, our engines are fast to get us to places faster and in more efficient ways. Things around us happen so fast hat we lost the enjoyment of the moment as well as the sense of our own selves and the world around us. We’re not living in the present anymore. We’re living with our smart phones, connected to the Wi-Fi and high speed Internet. We often fail to look around us and notice the things that really matter. In many ways, we are disconnected from ourselves, and each other: The time that we spend with ourselves and other Homo-sapiens is much less than the time we invest interacting with the iPad, and other technologies.
It’s Monday, you wake up at 8 O’ Clock in the morning. At 9 you’re at the office. Few hours pass, and it’s already 6 pm; time to go home. Suddenly, it’s Friday. And suddenly, it’s 2012. Suddenly you’re 26 years old, and suddenly you’re just an elderly person. Your life seems, for a moment, like a marathon. You’re running, and everyone around you is running too. We’re running with no clear destination ahead.
You ask yourself, “How did I get here?” If you’re lucky, you’ll have an answer to this existential question.
Fast Food fits the kind of life that we’re living nowadays. It reflects our times’ core and values. You can order and eat a fast meal within ten minutes. The meal doesn’t need any preparation. It’s always ready for us, and the Fast Food chains are everywhere to satisfy us. Unfortunately, this satisfaction is based on the values of a senseless system, not our real needs, not our senses nor our feelings.
We get full after a Fast Food meal. Our stomachs are filled, even stuffed sometimes; but only your stomach. We get the feeling that you ate and avoided starvation, and absolutely nothing else.