Chopsticks are one of the oldest and most popular kinds of utensils used in Asian countries, particularly in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. However, in recent times, they have gained immense global popularity. Particularly in urban India, using chopsticks when eating Asian food has become common practice.The Art of ChopstickingMy interest in the fine art of chopsticking, if you will, developed after watching the graceful movie Memoirs of a Geisha. In this film, the protagonist Chiyo/Sayuri learns how to use chopsticks as part of her training to become a geisha in Japan. This bubble of a world, the bygone era of grace and culture, mesmerised me. It is this fascination that made me deep dive into the world held by two sticks.The Chopstick ChroniclesWhile the exact inception of chopsticks is not clear, it is believed to have originated in China around 5,000 years ago. The earliest chopsticks were made of bronze and were used mainly for cooking. They were gradually refined and made of wood, bamboo, ivory and other materials. It was during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE) that chopsticks became an essential part of Chinese culture and were used not only for eating but also as a status symbol.The use of chopsticks eventually spread to other Asian countries, such as Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam. Each of these countries developed its unique style of using chopsticks that reflected their cultural traditions. Over the years, chopsticks have evolved in shape, size and materials used. In ancient times, chopsticks were usually long and thick, but over time, they became slimmer and more refined.The word chopsticks is believed to have originated from the Chinese Pidgin English word chop-chop, which means quickly or hurry up. The term was first recorded in English in the early 18th century. However, the actual Chinese term for chopsticks is kuai-zi, which translates to quick little bamboo fellows.From Twigs to TablewareIn Japan, chopsticks were traditionally made of wood, but during the Edo period (1603-1868), lacquered chopsticks became popular. These chopsticks were often decorated with intricate designs and considered works of art.In Korea, chopsticks were traditionally made of metal or silver, but in modern times, they are often made of stainless steel or plastic. Korean chopsticks are longer and flatter than Chinese or Japanese chopsticks, making them easier to use for picking up bulky items like vegetables and chunks of meat.In Vietnam, chopsticks are usually made of bamboo or wood and are shorter and thicker than Chinese or Japanese chopsticks. They are often used with a spoon to help scoop up food.Yours GloballyThe use of chopsticks in the US has been prevalent since the 1800s. However, its awareness grew because of global politics. In her book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, author Jennifer 8. Lee explains how the improved relationship between the United States and Japan, following World War II, led to an increased interest in Japanese culture, including the use of chopsticks. As Japanese cuisine became more popular in the United States, American leaders and diplomats began to learn how to use chopsticks as a sign of respect and cultural understanding.In recent years, the popularity of Asian cuisines in the West has increased due to globalisation and the growing diversity of Western societies. As an increasing number of people from different cultural backgrounds settle in Western countries, they bring with them their cultures and traditions.As for the use of chopsticks, it has also become popular in the West due to the growing interest in Asian culture and cuisine. Many people enjoy using chopsticks as a way to authentically experience the cultural traditions of East Asian countries. In addition, the use of chopsticks helps slow down the eating process and savour each bite, which is in line with the growing trend of mindful eating.The Indian AvatarWhile chopsticks are not traditionally used in India, they have become popular in recent years, particularly in urban areas. This trend can be attributed to the growing influence of East Asian culture and cuisine in India, as well as Indians increasing exposure to international travel and global cuisines.In major Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore, there are several restaurants that specialise in Asian cuisines, where chopsticks are the preferred utensil for eating.Cultural EtiquettesChopstick etiquettes have primarily emerged from East and Southeast Asian cultures, where chopsticks have been used for centuries. These rules are often deeply ingrained in cultural and social practices and are seen as a way of showing respect for the food being consumed and for the people serving it.While the use of chopsticks is not mandatory, there are a few internationally acclaimed restaurants that encourage their use. If you choose to use chopsticks, here are some tips to keep in mind:1. Do not use your chopsticks to point at people or objects2. Do not use your chopsticks to stab or impale food3. Do not pass food from chopstick to chopstick4. Do not leave your chopsticks sticking upright in a bowl of rice5. Do not use your chopsticks to play with or drum on the table6. Do not wave your chopsticks around in the air7. Do not suck or lick your chopsticks8. Do not bite or chew on your chopsticksBack to the BasicsComing to the main question -- how to use chopsticks? Before I share the steps, keep in mind that using chopsticks takes practice, and it may feel awkward or difficult at first. However, with time and patience, most people become comfortable with it. You may find it helpful to start with larger foods like rice or noodles, and gradually work your way up to smaller items. Here are some tips to train yourself to use chopsticks:1. Hold one chopstick between your thumb and your index finger, placing it at the base of your thumb and allowing it to rest against your ring finger. This chopstick should remain stationary.2. Hold the other chopstick between your thumb and middle finger, using your index finger to move it up and down. This chopstick will move to pick up food.3. Use the moving chopstick to grasp the food by placing it between the tips of the two chopsticks.4. Hold the food with the chopsticks as you bring it to your mouth.