Hasta la Vista, Burger!

By Raajeev Aggerwhil

During this long seemingly endless period of self-isolation, there is one thing I miss deeply: the excitement of opening a fortune cookie after finishing the last bite of Szechuan tofu with brown rice at my favorite Chinese restaurants. Sure, all of them still give out fortune cookies with takeout but it is more fun tearing the cookie apart and reading the small strip with family and friends surrounded by the authentic ambience of China.

According to Wikipedia, “Fortune cookies are often served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants in the US and other countries, but they are not Chinese in origin. The exact origin of fortune cookies is unclear, though various immigrant groups in California claim to have popularized them in the early 20th century. They most likely originated from cookies made by Japanese immigrants to the United States in the late 19th or early 20th century. The Japanese version did not have the Chinese lucky numbers and was eaten with tea."

Like fortune cookies, it is widely believed that the popular dish Chicken Tikka Masala was created in an Indian restaurant in London. It was a contribution of the South Asian immigrants to the UK. I wonder if Indian immigrants in the US can create a concept of Desi fortune cookies at Indian restaurants which would have witty pearls of wisdom from Indian culture and literature.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes by Mahatma Gandhi that would make it to the list:

“Eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
“Be the change you wish to see in the world."
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread."
“Poverty is the worst form of violence."
“My life is my message."

Since I have been meditating for over 20 years, while researching material for this article, I came across some of Buddha's quotes that really resonated with me. I believe they not only transcend time but will appeal to Indian and non-Indian customers:

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

There are other quotes from famous Indian leaders that would be worthy of making into Desi fortune cookies.

“Work is undoubtedly worship, but laughter is life." – Sardar Patel
“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will." - Jawaharlal Nehru
“Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves." - Jawaharlal Nehru
“Give me blood and I will give you freedom!" - Subhash Chandra Bose
“You cannot shake hands with a closed fist." - Indira Gandhi
“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there." - Indira Gandhi

Finally, we could tap into sources such as the Panchatantra, for eternal pearls of wisdom:

“Never give advice, unless you are asked for it." – Panchatantra
“Only the brave succeed in life." -Panchatantra
“Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendship will never give you happiness." - Panchatantra

More creative owners of restaurants could come up with their own customized fortune cookie messages with a touch of humor:

“Jiski badi gaadi, uska right of way. – The bigger car gets the right of way."
“The world is flat … like our Roti."
“Don't goof off. Your job and fortune may get outsourced to India."

The restaurant managers could also get inspiration from Hollywood movies customized for the Indian palate:

“Mama always said arranged marriage was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." (Forrest Gump)
“Frankly, my Dear. I don't give a damn about bland food." (Gone with the Wind)
“You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel hungry?" (Dirty Harry)
“Go ahead, make me a chapati." (Sudden Impact)
“May the Garam Masala be with you." (Star Wars)
“Nan. My name is James Nan." (Dr. No)
“I love the smell of cumin in the morning." (Apocalypse Now)
“Here's Curry!" (The Shining)
“Love means never having to say you hate Dal Chawal." (Love Story)
“You can't handle the pickles. (A Few Good Men)
“Mrs. Chutney, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?" (The Graduate)
“Turmeric, for lack of a better word, is good." (Wall Street)
“Here's looking at you, Pakoda." (Casablanca)
“Say 'Namaste' to my little Samosa!" (Scarface)
“You WILL be back." (The Terminator)
“Hasta la vista, burger." (Terminator 2)

Not only are Indians gaining power around the world in every industry, we could actually change the world one fortune cookie at a time. Fortune cookies may have been created by the Japanese, mass marketed by the Chinese but could be perfected by the Indians. Imagine the envy in every Chinatown as people head to Little India in their cities. It might not be the same as the Olympics but world domination in the fortune cookie market is solid gold.

Sources: Blog.hubspot.com/sales/famous-movie-quotes, Brainyquote.com, Successories.com, Medium.com, Quotes.net, Goodreads.com, Scrolldroll.com, Azquotes.com, AFI.com


Los Angeles-based comedian Raajeev Aggerwhil has starred in Nickelodeon's TV show 100 Things to Do Before High School and also acted in the film based on the television series. See his videos at www.youtube.com/channel/UCG8qILCj3j3DOqisy2zfUDA