Monday, November 27, 2017

Snacking Is India’s Favourite Pastime Right After Outrage

Courtesy - Google Images

Hunger is one of our most primal needs, because it’s food that sustains and comforts us, and gives us joy. Sometimes we get into such an intense relationship with food that it borders on obsession. This kind of relationship usually ends up in heartbreak. I mean what can be more sorrowful than seeing the needle on your weighing scale cross unchartered territories! Which is why the most dangerous type of hunger is the one that has more to do with your state of mind and very little to do with the rumblings inside your stomach. It starts as a little voice inside your head, soft at first, coaxing you to reach for that pack of crisps that you’ve hidden inside a 60-feet pit you dug a few hours back. The one that you were not supposed to buy but still bought it. The one whose existence you were supposed to forget like the promises politicians make just before elections. But damn, it’s stuck inside your head like a fly in a pot of jam! The more you try to ignore that bloody voice, the louder it becomes. It has now installed monster sized amplifiers inside your head. Your hands are now feeling clammy and you can hardly breathe. And that voice is now sounding like a chorus of crazy cricket fans chanting – just eat it, dammit!

You start clawing at the mud with your fingers, sweating with desperation, eager to reach to the bottom of the pit to that green and orange pack that you bought from Kalu ki dukan. You tear open the pack and gobble its contents in 10 seconds flat. Your face is now smeared with the orange spice that’s making your nose gush like sewage during monsoons.

Crispy roundels of heaven, packed with absolutely no nutrients, hollow claims, lots of guilt and 100% guaranteed satisfaction. These devious things cast a hypnotic spell on you. You know it’s bad for your waistline, yet you keep digging in for more and more like a greedy politician.

Eyes half closed in ecstasy, your breathing is now slow and languorous and then you take a deep sigh of regret.

It’s not as if Karni Sena will come running after me to behead me if I choose to snack on carrot sticks and a handful of chia seeds instead. But having a healthy snack is against Indian culture, no? Especially when you are born in a country that takes its munchies as seriously as not a doing a thing about toxic air that the capital is forced to breathe.

A mind-boggling variety of farsans, chop, jhal-muri, bhelpuri, phuchka, dahi bhalla, momos to choose from. Uff! It’s like you are Vishwamitra and these apsaras are out to wreak havoc on your carefully laid out diet plans.

Sweet, savoury, crunchy, chewy, there’s something to suit everyone’s palate.

We love our snacks so much that we even invent occasions to give us an excuse to indulge ourselves.

When we were kids, winters would mean picnics and picnics would mean taking breaks between munching on peanuts, puri-aloo, gajaar halwa, pakora and chai to play the mandatory game of badminton and losing yet another Frisbee. If you are a Bengali you’d have the added bonanza of having cold boiled egg sandwich with banana. If you crinkled your nose in refusal, you’d be rewarded with the sight of Bhutoo kakima rolling her eyes like a windshield wiper on a rainy day. And rainy days mean that veggies have no option but to dip themselves in a batter of gram-flour and jump in a karhai of hot oil. God made winters so that we could get fat and content consuming kilos of gajjaks, revdis and chikkis.

Office meetings, school functions, Independence day, farewell functions refuse to commence till cold samosas and sticky gulab jamuns are served on paper plates. Samosas are the ‘you complete’ me’ for any public function. Cheap and filling, they are available at any nukkad shop with piping hot sugary tea.

Snacking is India’s favourite pastime right after outrage. Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that nashta-pani is the number one excuse to demand a bribe.

If you see a large gathering, it’s either for the world famous kachori-wala or to watch an accident victim bleed to his death.

Come evening and neighbourhood markets are swarming with people snacking on chowmein, moong-pakodis, dahi papdis with such ferocity that some visiting alien might mistake it for their last supper. Go to Chandni Chowk in Delhi and even the smallest of establishments will have mile long queues outside it before the cows have set out for their morning walk. The grimier the establishment, the more iconic its status is.

Snacking, just like potholes is a great leveller. It can strike anytime, anyone, irrespective of their pet cause, ideologies, poshness of their holidays, and number of hired helps. Mid-morning, mid-night, pre-lunch… And thanks to these food delivery apps, there’s even a genie to make all your cravings come true as long as you have money in your wallet.

While the government is busy slashing GST, why don’t they make Indian snacks GST free and give tax rebates to snack vendors? With just one stroke our mai-baaps will give a massive boost to their make in India program and reduce unemployment at the same time. This will ensure that the outrage brigade with plenty of time on their hands, especially the Rajputs fighting for the honour of a deceased queen are kept busy either snacking or selling snacks.

Once we do away with needless noise over useless issues, we can focus on the ones that really matter – like Deepika’s exercise regimen, Katrina’s pet cat’s diet and Modi jee’s favourite asana.

Now where’s my Nobel for peace for this brilliant idea.


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