Most cultures have a knife that everyone recognizes.

The knife means the culture and the culture means they will most likely be using that knife, or a derivative of it. Some, like the Japanese Masamoto pictured to the right, are more than readily recognizable. But in India, I was surprised to find what blade prevails.

It took me a bit to recognize this particular knife. On the streets of Mumbai it’s the most common way to cut a tomato or an onion. The technique would make all good mothers scream in horror, and every scout master would have a coronary as the razor thin knife is zipped in one long pull towards the inner hand and a remnant of tomato is rendered that could be called a very thin slice.

It’s closer to a wire than a blade. Most of the steel looks like scrap that the knife makers don’t care to clean before fashioning into a knife. “Brands” like Sleek, Technis (yes, spelled Technis but looking remarkably like Technics) and Super Fast adorn the sides of the blade so that everyone can ascertain the steel quality.

They come in all sizes from machete to razor and the cleaver is fairly popular, though the official name the smith will yell at you when you pick it up is “Chinese Chinese.”

My knife maker can fashion the thin make-shifts in under 10 minutes and they sell for less than a quarter. They cut their worth at the first slice. Watch your thumb when cutting like an Indian, or they will end up being a long term investment.


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