Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mostly water !!!

On Aug 1st this year, I took up a resolution to eat only home-cooked food. I came to the disconcerting realization that having decided that all of vegetarianism in the US was either leaves, or cheese, I was constantly picking cheese. In turn, my body, totally supportive of that decision, had decided to store it. If my sins got carried over to my next several births, I’d be staring at several interesting possibilities including being a fat bird incapable of flying, a fat snail, which when stamped would result in an overmuch of putrid squish, a fat ant incapable of carrying over hundred times its weight, or a fat leaf leaving its eating to be very undesired. I wish I could post snapshots of my imagined rebirths but I try to keep my posts G rated. Kids and their PB&J sandwiches are welcome!

So I resolved to turn a new (leaf?). Having taken such a resolution, I came to my senses rather quickly. A fat leaf ? Na! I know my biology. Leaves don’t have adipose tissues. I’m saved! And of course, I faltered several times and broke my resolve more than once. I even made the untimely discovery that Panera Bread will serve you sandwiches without the meat. No more of just Mediterranean veggie sandwich ? Hurrah to even varieties of cheese between slices of bread. Down goes my resolution.

Be assured, absolutely nothing on the weighing scale went down. So my real strict resolution is going to start again on September 1st. I shall be including potatoes in my diet now. Potatoes, not being leaves or cheese will give me more variety and are in great abundance in the US of A. (God! I sure hope I am kidding.)
Meanwhile, all I can think of now is real vegetarian food. Indian food. I mean food served on plantain leaves during weddings. I used to detest the entire unholy mess and all the rasam dripping hands and the annoying way in which the servers get stingy with the banana chips and the even more creepy chunks of pumpkin. The wedding-food Gods (there must be one ?) are clearly having their sweet revenge. Would that I could go back to one of those weddings and eat the pumpkin sambar.

And then my mind drifted several times to Shatabdi express’s food. I haven’t been on the Shatabdi often enough. My mom never believed in wasting precious daylight time in a train unless absolutely necessary. It was always madras mail. Board at 10:40 in Bangalore. Land in Chennai at 4:30 am in the morning (by which time the entire city seemed like it was sitting down for lunch. Those guys start their days much earlier compared to Bangalore). And Shatabdi’s food, even back in India, where all kinds of sumptuous vegetarian food was available, was delectable. I have a particular fancy for anything train and train station related (except the restrooms of course!). And now, I am fully convinced that Shatabdi’s food is a cuisine in its own good. So of course, I had to know everything there is to know about Shatabdi food. Who decided to start it ? Who decided the menu? Does that minister or the civil service official have a statue yet ? Could he be coaxed into becoming prime minister? Is the Indian government generous with its budget for Shatabdi food ? Is the catering company up for IPO soon ?

And it was in this delirious mood that I went to Wikipedia fully believing that it would have an entire entry dedicated to Shatabdi food.

And what do I find ?

“Shatabdi Express travelers are provided with snacks, breakfast, meals, coffee or tea, a one-litre water bottle and a glass of canned juice.”
(and it's in the entry for Shatabi; not the entry for Food Service in Shatabdi)

I am pretty sure that falls somewhere in the zip-code of misrepresenting information. That line almost sounds like Shatabdi’s food is completely besides the point and atrocious and that the only thing worth mentioning is the 1 litre water bottle (it may not even come with water in it. Is that what I must make of it?) and a glass of canned juice ? I mean, what about the soup and the breadsticks and the candy and the ice cream and the hot coffee served in flasks and hot rotis and the rice and the yogurt (we call it curds), and the little earthern pot it's set in, and the pickle and the sabji and the dal all wrapped neatly in aluminium foil ?

This happens to be the only time I’ve wanted to edit a Wikipedia entry.

This also makes me feel very much like Arthur Dent(of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), who upon realizing that his planet Earth had been demolished, desperately searched the guide for its description, in an attempt to cling on to its memory.

All I can say is that airlines around the world must be described as giving snacks and meals and water bottled and canned juice. In fact, it would be perfectly alright to say that airlines are always in huge supply of ice.

But to relegate Shatabdi’s food to that pedestrian class is a gross injustice.
One that I plan to resolve in the next few weeks!

So long and thanks for nothing!

The Earth.

Visions of it swam sickeningly through his nauseated mind. There was no way his imagination could feel the impact of the whole Earth having gone, it was too big. He prodded his feelings by thinking that his parents and his sister had gone. No reaction. He thought of all the people he had been close to. No reaction. Then he thought of a complete stranger he had been standing behind in the queue at the supermarket before and felt a sudden stab — the supermarket was gone, everything in it was gone. Nelson's Column had gone! Nelson's Column had gone and there would be no outcry, because there was no one left to make an outcry. From now on Nelson's Column only existed in his mind. England only existed in his mind — his mind, stuck here in this dank smelly steel-lined spaceship. A wave of claustrophobia closed in on him.

England no longer existed. He'd got that — somehow he'd got it. He tried again. America, he thought, has gone. He couldn't grasp it. He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He'd never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, had sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonalds, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald's hamburger.
He passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother.

He jerked himself violently to his feet.


Ford looked up from where he was sitting in a corner humming to himself. He always found the actual travelling-through-space part of space travel rather trying.

"Yeah?" he said.

"If you're a researcher on this book thing and you were on Earth, you must have been gathering material on it."

"Well, I was able to extend the original entry a bit, yes."

"Let me see what it says in this edition then, I've got to see it."

"Yeah OK." He passed it over again.

Arthur grabbed hold of it and tried to stop his hands shaking. He pressed the entry for the relevant page. The screen flashed and swirled and resolved into a page of print. Arthur stared at it.

"It doesn't have an entry!" he burst out.

Ford looked over his shoulder.

"Yes it does," he said, "down there, see at the bottom of the screen, just under
Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon 6."

Arthur followed Ford's finger, and saw where it was pointing. For a moment it still didn't register, then his mind nearly blew up.
"What? Harmless? Is that all it's got to say? Harmless! One word!"

Ford shrugged.

"Well, there are a hundred billion stars in the Galaxy, and only a limited amount of space in the book's microprocessors," he said, "and no one knew much about the Earth of course."

"Well for God's sake I hope you managed to rectify that a bit."

"Oh yes, well I managed to transmit a new entry off to the editor. He had to trim it a bit, but it's still an improvement."

"And what does it say now?" asked Arthur.

"Mostly harmless," admitted Ford with a slightly embarrassed cough.

"Mostly harmless!" shouted Arthur.

"What was that noise?" hissed Ford.

"It was me shouting," shouted Arthur.


Nishtha said...

After my family saw photos of me in which I looked like I was showing early signs of turning into a typical round 40 year old woman in my family, I decided to strictly eat healthy. And then I read 'The end of overeating' by Dr. David Kessler which describes how the food industry deliberately loads food with sugar, fat, salt and artificial flavoring to make overly palatable food that the body gets addicted to so you dont stop eating even though you're full. I felt terrible about all the junk with no nutrition value I had pumped into my body. Plus i was spending 30 bucks a day just eating food that wasnt even good for me ...I havent been perfect though , I still eat out a few times a week :(

Janani said...

I swear the American Food Industry has found a way to make fat inhalable. Even if I just look at the food in front of me, it seems to desposit itself on me :(

I've been trying to get smart about fruits, water and caffeine intake as well. But thinking about getting smart is a far cry from actually being smart :/

The Bride said...

Why have I never eaten good train food? My experience of train food is watery dal and metallic tasting veggie. I think certain train routes are just blessed and I've never been on the blessed route. My husband was going into ecstasies about railway food from Bangalore to Kerala the other day.

Janani said...

@ the bride

You might need a particularly screwed up head or complications during your birth (as I did) to really like train food. I am addicted to any coffee that comes on a train, for instance.

but, in all seriousness, you must also try the 2 night journey from bangalore (or I suppose anywhere in the south) to delhi. authentic indian cuisine across several states. I haven't had a better masala chai yet.