Popcorn with Sultan’s brother

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So, I go for ‘Sultan’ with a friend. We have the tickets at the rear end of the theatre. The seating arrangement for our row is such that there are two seats, a gap and then a solo seat. We settle down in our seats. As the lights go out, a lady accompanied by a man walks in and occupies the solo seat next to us. The man looks around and then plops on the floor (in the gap). I look at him and battle between gasping at the blatant rebellious (free?) behaviour of this man and pretending to be cool about his choice of seat for the movie. I do the latter. Who wants to be a stuck up person anyway?

As the lights flash on the screen, I look at the guy, albeit a little slyly. I don’t want to stare at this person whom I am suddenly feeling compelled to admire for his oblivion to society’s rights, wrongs and blah.

I tap on my friend’s shoulder and exclaim (although not too loudly, since I am still pretending to be cool) – ‘Is this Arbaaz Khan?’

My friend also stares at him and nods. Celebrities have to resort to such extreme measures to keep their lives private, I conclude. He must have wanted to watch his brother’s movie with no one staring at him; hence he chose to sit in the last row of the theatre. Plus sitting on the floor makes this a perfect place for him to hide from the public eye and watch the movie in peace.

The dilemma begins when the movie begins. I take the whole walking-in-other-people’s-shoes thing a bit too seriously. I am hypersensitive to what might offend Arbaaz, and of course all criticism of the film and Sallu bhai tops the chart in terms of what might offend him.

We appropriately laugh at the punch lines and my friend comments loudly as to how Salman doesn’t look 50 years old. I also nod along vigorously, adding in my expert comments on how much effort it must take for him to maintain a body like that. Of course, being on the wrong side of the Khan family is something that every Indian wants to avoid, unless one wants to increase the probability of being run over by their vehicle, while sitting on a guava tree branch.

Arbaaz seems lost in the film and has no time for our overenthusiastic-walking-in-other-people’s-shoes phenomenon. Of course, as a director, his job is to watch movies from a professional angle. We decide to take a selfie with him after the film. As soon as the movie finishes, he gets up and starts walking fast. At that moment, I discover that my friend is also a swift walker, in fact slightly swifter than him. She manages to overtake him and look at his face.

Then with an air of disappointment, she says-‘This is not Arbaaz’. I wonder if my perception of the film would have been different if this guy walking around, looking like Arbaaz Khan hadn’t biased my opinions. No more walking around in other people’s shoes. I also Whatsapp the half dozen people that I had already informed about Arbaaz walking around breathing the same theatre air as us, that it a false alarm.

Well, at least we got to stuff popcorn down our throats, while this side show was going on.

Image Credits- etsy.com

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Thunder, Lightning and the Speed of Thighs

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Image Credits: Dumpaday.com

Do you ever have a crazy mental dialogue when you go shopping alone? Or always, for that matter?

Date: 28th March 2015

Venue: Shopping Mall

Before visiting the mall, I checked out a website which tells you what colours you should wear depending on the kind of energy you project. I realised that I had been wearing dark colours all my life whereas I should have been wearing bright colours. I agreed with the same for lack of a valid counterargument and went shopping.

Brain: In order for you to accomplish this, look at all the colours that you would have never worn normally, before your life changing ‘which colour should I wear’ discovery.

Me: Ok.

I stayed off the dark colours and went to look for the more chatak(loud) colours. 

I picked out a few clothes, with slightly shaky hands. Changing the core colours you wear almost changes your identity in some way.

Brain: You will look like a fruit salad wearing these colours.

Me: Snicker.

I picked out a few of those fruit salad clothes, determined to feel good looking like a fruit salad. After all, if it lifts my energy and makes me happier(like a yellow coloured minion), who cares? I also picked out a few pairs of jeans and went in.

Now, before I go into the juicy details of the trial room, I want to give let you in on a conversation which I had with a senior on Yahoo chat almost a decade back.

X(For lack of a better codeword): Do you know that guys in the hostel call you thunder thighs?

Me: Umm.

What the hell is one supposed to do with information like this? And why do people feel like passing on such information? It is like going to a dog and saying ‘You know that you bark, right?’ . Uh! Ok.

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Image Credits: www.boredpanda.com

As I thought about the thunder thighs label, which always brings up an image of Sridevi in a wet sari dancing with Anil Kapoor, who is her brother-in-law now (Bollywood, you scare me), I pulled out a pair of jeans and started trying it on.

Me: Ugh!

Brain(in an animated paan chewing driver’s tone as the jeans reached my thighs): Ab tak to Manali tak ka raasta tha, easy tha. Aage se Rohtang pass hai.

Me: Ssh!

I gave up on the jeans, as it probably gave up on me. I walked out of the store with my self respect intact. What goes on in the trial room, stays in the trial room.

I went home and did the weighing scale dance. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Remove all coins from your pockets.

Step 2: Get on the weighing scale.

Step 3: Blink a couple of times in horror. Hope that the blinks scare the damn weighing scale to lower the weight.

Step 4: Give the weighing scale a second chance, by checking its zero error. Who knows – the scale might be pointing to 5 kg instead of the default 0 kg?

Step 5: Bring out curse words with as much venom as possible. Make the weighing scale feel bad by screaming ‘Once a traitor, always a traitor.’

Step 6: Take charge of the situation and create a zero error in the opposite direction.

Step 7: Congratulations! You are now 5 kgs lighter. You can be the poster boy or girl in one of those pretentious weight loss commercials, in which only the ‘After’ photo gets photoshopped.

I want to hear about your crazy shopping and weight reduction experiments. Don’t be lazy. Comment below. Typing makes one’s fingers thinner, so I hear. 😉

Proudly yours,

Thunder Thighs

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

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Keys…Bermuda Triangle…Sigh!

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This story dates back about two decades. I owned a bicycle back then. Monotony didn’t feature in my dictionary back then. I loved riding the bike on the road in front of our house, back and forth, with no agenda to reach anywhere whatsoever. I loved the feel of the wind against my face, the quiet neighbourhood, the street dogs who would sometimes run behind the bike and the endorphins(although at that time I didn’t know about endorphins).

There was only one problem that interfered with this hobby of mine. A friend of mine used to pop by expectedly every day and snatch the bike from me. Well, I had been taught to share, so I managed to stuff my possessiveness of the bike and the aforementioned endorphins within me. That is what good girls did. And so, I didn’t say much during the first few days. After, he started taking my trying-to-be-good nature for granted, I had to do something. My kiddy brain gave me one piece of advice – to hide the keys. I don’t know who I was hiding them from, since he never came into my room to grab the keys. But, I wanted it out of sight, so that I could tell him that I could not find my bike keys. At that time, the guilt of lying was much lesser than the pain of being giving due to a lack of choice. My friend came, I told him that I had lost the bicycle keys(with much tsking to validate the point). Guess Bollywood resides in each one of us in the way we dramatise things. He went off, probably to find other people’s honesty that he could mess around with.

I relaxed that day, doing things that kids do. The next evening, I decided to sneak out my bicycle to go somewhere new, somewhere I would not bump run into this friend. To my utmost horror, I could not remember where I had hidden the keys. It was one of those duh moments, which I can never forget, as if the memory cells in my mind which had the information on where these keys were, had been sucked in by the Bermuda Triangle or something. I searched everywhere possible for the next few days. It was the dumbest thing to happen to me(and anyone I knew). I was the laughing stock for my family for the next few days. Ultimately, the lock had to be broken, when the keys were declared missing permanently by me. The next day onwards, I had to share my bicycle with him again, this time with a feeling of guilt and stupidity tugging at my heart.

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Interviews, Zippers and Mistaken Identities

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Interviews. I think of zippers whenever I think of interviews. Strange neuro-association, isn’t it? I can hear you mumbling neuro….what? Neuro- association is the way in which the brain links up two things together which it considers logical. In my (over)analysis of my neuro associations, I have gasped multiple times at the ludicrous neuro-associations in my brain and then tapped on my face to remove those ‘logical’ neuro associations(read about EFT tapping before you judge me). Sigh, I secretly dream of a world where we all are as weird as I am. That doesn’t seem likely unless I create billions of weird-face-tapping clones of me.

Back to zippers….and interviews. Interviews bring up images of folders with a resume in them, complete with a passport size photo in my mind(apart from zippers, of course). It feels insensitive to call it a resume, it should be called the ‘Shining Glory of My Life Spent on This Planet’ or something like that. Aah. Anyway, I had carried my ‘Shining Glory…blah…blah…’ to the interview room few years back, after having fixed my hair and lip gloss a few dozen times, aiming to give a perfect impression of my sincere-shining self. People walked in, asked me questions, nodded a lot and then informed me that few other people wanted to interview me. I smiled unnaturally, as is natural to do so in the interview. Perhaps, people finish their quota of smiles(and lip-gloss) in the interview room and then frown for the next few years they work in that place.

I first stared at the walls of the interview room, which I feel obliged to do in such situations, where nothing else seems to fill that time between the going out and coming in of people. I then stared at my skirt. It looked nice…black…formal…and dull. Good. But then, I noticed that my skirt zip(on the side of the skirt) was undone and spoilt. So now, one could see the holy white tucked in shirt, through the black skirt. Eeks!

I didn’t know how any of this was my fault, but I was convinced it was. In some way it was…as it always was. My hand immediately covered up the gap…the gap which would put gaps between cliffs which people dream of jumping to shame. I felt handicapped at that moment, with only one hand of mine operational, since one hand had to do its job of saving my izzat(respect). The other hand  would have to be used to shake hands and wave animatedly in the air in order to declare my passion for the job. The second set of people came in and asked their stuff. I replied, one hand stuck to the side of the skirt. I sensed that they sensed that there was something wrong with my arm. But, I was determined to not let ‘the gap’ spoil my interview. Finally my interview ended and I walked out with a sense of confidence that I could single handedly(sense the pun?) sail through an interview.

My neuro-association is prompting me to write about yet another embarrassing situation where I was asked to wait in a coffee shop for an interview. I had checked the Facebook profile of my interviewer the previous night, as part of my research. Amazing how one can do anything under the pretext of research. So, I was looking for this lady of a particular nationality to come and interview me. A lady breezily came up to me and said ‘Hieee. I’ll be back in a moment.’ I smiled politely and rummaged through my brain for the Facebook photo I had seen of the interviewer the previous day.  Mismatch! She was not the one.

Perhaps, she had decided that she wanted her face to match another nationality’s and had then gone through a series of painful plastic surgeries to make that happen. I settled(sank) into my chair and waited for the lady-who-had-changed-her-nationality. To my horror, I saw a person with a face that matched the Facebook photo I had seen earlier walk towards me. She sat next to me and started asking relevant questions. I started spurting out my replies in an organised and rehearsed manner. The breezy-lady-who-I-thought-had-changed-her-nationality popped up again and stared at me and the interviewer-whose-photo-matched-the-Facebook-profile.  I just pointed at the interviewer’s head and nodded as part of some secret code that the breezy lady seemed to get. She nodded apologetically and walked off. The interviewer stared at me and I blabbered something like ‘She must have assumed I am someone else’ and continued jabbering my answers…..as if nothing happened.

Over to you. What weird(funny) interview experiences have you had? What pops into your mind whenever you think of interviews?

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, puhleeeez, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

Image Credits – Unknown(but brilliant).

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Morning Glemashomikumona

Bromo Sunrise-2Mornings…We either love them or hate them. The media has a big role to play in terms of how mornings should look like. For them, the idea of a morning involves the following sequence of events – Bright sunlight streams into large sized rooms(with no clutter, obviously). A vivacious woman wakes up with her hair perfectly falling on her shoulders. She has a wide smile playing on her lips. She proceeds to take a steamy shower using a shower gel.  She sometimes plays with the lather that forms and blows it out to no one in particular and then happily proceeds with her day. Depending on what is being sold in this version of mornings, the vivacious-girl-who-plays-with-lather might drink coffee and/or wave to people(sometimes even strangers, depending on how desperately they want to sell you what they are selling you).

Huh?

I would not speak for everyone, but my mornings are vastly different. For one, sunlight is not responsible for waking me up every morning. The alarm clock rings, leading my half awake self to turn it off multiple times. In fact, for some strange reason, I have two alarm clocks ringing at the same time, on my phone and my husband’s. I get up and turn both of them off and head back to my bed after this vigorous activity early in the morning. I almost feel guilty for sleeping without setting an alarm and then turning it off. Switching off the alarm, or turning on the snooze button earns you that right…the right to sleep for a few extra minutes. Those few extra minutes, if caught in a wrestling match with the remaining 6 (or 7…or 8…or 9….are you a lazy bum?) hours of sleep, would win hands down.

Over the years, I have understood the importance of a morning routine. It helps me find myself. Before I head into the day, doing what I am supposed to do, I sit and be ‘me’ for a few minutes, sipping on ginger tea and writing in my journal. I pick out angel cards in the morning to get advice which a person like me feels she needs to do, in order to be equipped to tackle the challenges of the day.

Earlier, my morning routine consisted of only three things – Get ready, have breakfast and listen to mindless dance Bollywood songs on MTV. That set the tone for the day. Over time, I have become more finicky(and weird) about the stuff that I need to squeeze into my mornings. I feel like an HR manager recruiting for an extremely tough role. I consider various options of what to include in my morning routine and then carefully hand-pick some. If they don’t provide value, I kick them out.

The first thing that  I do as soon as I open my eyes is look at the clouds. I feel thrilled if I see feather or angel shaped clouds, because I consider it to be a good morning wish from the big guy(or gal) up there. Then I scroll through Facebook and my email(not ideal I know) and get in touch with ‘reality’. I then make myself a cup of ginger tea and write in my journal. No playing with soapy foam for me, thank you. Sometimes, I just stare outside my house and think….about nothing in particular. Then I do some energy medicine moves, which have been recruited recently by me. And then the day starts….The value of this morning ‘me time’ has increased over the years and it acts like a soft landing before the day starts.

Now for some weird stuff that finds time in my morning routine. I sometimes write gibberish in my journal. I feel that the pressure for words to make sense build up over time and we talk in an extremely structured way with other people. But, words can’t do justice to raw emotions. Ever cursed and went on a I-don’t-know-what-came-over-me trip? Exactly! Now you know a way to curse without anyone ever getting offended.

Hence, I write nonsensical words(or sometimes sing them, just like kids do)….bapulaposimapoleeee. It feels great because emotions that you are not ready or express in words because they may be too ‘wrong’, come up. If you think I am crazy for doing this, try it. Most importantly know that Osho preaches this a fair bit. I feel much better dragging someone else into the picture. And just imagine if Aamir Khan spoke gibberish instead of what he said recently about intol…err… shimatolipasomimosa. Phew, that’s better.

What weird(or normal) stuff do you do in the mornings?

Signing off now..Have a great day!

Image Credits – Lenspaint Swyl Saksena Studio

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, please, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

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The Bond Guy on the train

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We have an amazing habit of linking things up. Right now, as I hear the thunder outside, I am reminded of tea which goes fabulously with rains. And tea always reminds me of the tiny kulhad tea that gets served in trains – The comforting sound of the train on the tracks, the voices of people talking (sometimes a bit too loudly, managing to disrupt the art of hiding behind a book to avoid the people sitting in front staring awkwardly at you, due to the sheer berth arrangement which makes people want to talk to each other) and the sounds of vendors selling tea, bhel and other items which somehow taste better on trains.

This incident goes back to my college days, back when we proclaimed ourselves to be cool. In an attempt to live by the code of coolness, we had to do certain things like not care about reserving our seats and behave indignantly when asked for tickets by the ticket checker. On one such fine day, we decided to buy a general ticket for our travel back home. It was an overnight journey and we thought we would just pay the difference and get a reserved seat, just like we always did.

That day was different. Firstly, the train was jam packed with smart alecs like us, who were also in the race to be proclaimed cool. Secondly, the ticket checker was ……well, I will let you form a judgement on him. We sat on seats hand-picked by us and went gabbing about things of paramount importance – who said what to whom in college….and why….and when….after which we went on to the debate of who was right. Within this time, the bond guy,  as we shall refer to the ticket checker, made his way to our kingdom.

The conversation after this went like this:

‘Uncle, can you upgrade our seats?’ my friend said.

Silence…. Bond Guy looked perturbed after which a wave of anger crossed his face. Yep, it was definitely anger, what with all the clenching(of the jaw, silly) and furrowed eyebrows.

‘Uncle?’ he gasped.

My friend giggled. Unfortunately, Bond Guy took more offence. This time he almost spat his response. Swach Bharat, anyone?

‘If I wore Nike shoes and spiked my hair, you would not be calling me uncle,’ he said.

We looked at each other in dismay. This uncle was our only support in the train, the only one who would redeem us of our general class tickets and give us reserved berths, where we would continue our who said what to whom and when game. But he adopted an air of huffiness. We could have buttered him on his looks, but it would mean lying through our teeth(and dentures, if anyone was secretly wearing them). We could have said sorry, but cool people don’t do that, according to the the ‘Worldwide Guide of Being Cool Handbook.’ I just made that handbook name up. Hope you didn’t waste your time searching for it online. I give classes on how to fake coolness, by the way. Wink.

Anyhow, the matter had slipped out of our hands, as we stared at Bond Guy, who stood there devoid of his Nike shoes.

‘Go to the general compartment,’ he ordered, pointing his index(not middle) finger in a particular direction.

Since we were part time rebels as well,  we walked in the opposite direction.

‘Hey, the general compartment is this side,’ he reminded us, although not too loudly, because by now the snorers had taken over the compartment.

We started running as fast as we could. He did not run after us…because of his Nike shoes dilemma. Now, because our semester exams had just gotten over, our college mates were spread throughout the train – some who would help us and some who….well , would show us the middle finger, because few things about us rubbed them the wrong way. Actually, all things about us. One of the people from the 1st category(the ones who would help us) was fortunate and well planned enough to be travelling in A.C 2nd tier. AC 2nd tier in India is the compartment in Indian trains, where curtains are used to provide privacy to passengers. As I ran through the 2nd AC compartment, I got pulled into a side lower berth by that well meaning 1st category person.

He hissed in a voice that only villains would take the risk of hissing in.

Chup jaa pagal. Warna T.C(Ticket Checker) pakad lega,’ he said. Heaven knows how he found out about the Nike dilemma. My legs were hanging from below the curtains. If there is one thing I know, it is to not get comfortable around any sort of hissing noises. No exceptions. I fled out of there. Meanwhile, my friend came running towards me.

‘You know what happened?’ she said.

‘What?’ I said.

‘This classmate (let’s name him Delusional Dude for reasons that are best undisclosed) whipped out his hand across the aisle out of nowhere,’ she said.

‘And?’ I said.

‘And he had a balm in his hand. He said “Ye lo…Balm lagao” ‘ she said.

‘What? Why?’ I said.

‘I don’t know. I shrieked,’ she said.

For those who don’t know, shrieking is considered a valid…almost expected response in these situations. If you don’t scream, perhaps you are as loony as him.

‘The worst part is he was probably asleep,’ she said.

Oh, the drama of the subconscious mind reveals itself just when you think you have concealed ‘that part of you‘ which no one should ever see.

We kept running until finally we found a bunch of seniors who were travelling in the same train. They were kind enough to provide us with ample inches for our bums to settle in.

Years later, I travelled in a train after Mr. Laloo had ended his reign as the railway minister of India. At that point I was not concerned much about the state of the railways, et al. To me, at a micro level, all that mattered was that I got to my destination without having to witness a guy….umm…how do I put this delicately….well, without having to witness a guy pleasing himself rather apparently under a thin bed sheet, on a berth that was right next to mine.

So, I settled into my side lower berth with rather low expectations and high excitement due to not having to share small talk with people staring at me. When I was about to fall asleep, my subconscious mind woke me up, perhaps sensing some danger. What I witnessed next was the fury of three cockroaches, rubbing their legs(?), arms(?) together on the train wall, while staring at me with eyes that were well bigger than ordinary cockroach eyes. I panicked and slid out of the berth, like a snake, albeit a terrified one. The trio didn’t budge, displaying their confidence and authority over a compartment that they probably considered their own. I begged someone to let me sleep in an empty berth next to theirs. But all night, I kept staring at the train wall, hoping that the trio didn’t follow me there.

Image credits: Unknown

Thursdays, Maggi and Short Circuits

Relationships grow with time. They take hard work, dedication and well…..bad hostel food. Such was the relationship between me and Maggi, the instant noddles brand which had been banned recently amidst much hue and cry. When I had joined hostel, Maggi was just a snack, something that could be substituted easily with a sandwich, samosa(deep fried Indian snack) or rolls. But, it required excellent effort by the hostel chefs to deep fry paneer(cottage cheese) coupled with my roommate’s love story with Maggi which illuminated me. This illumination happened via a series of events which repeated themselves over a period of three years. Every night, this room-mate (lets call her ‘S’) would diligently pick up a cooking pot  that she kept in a clean corner in the room(which was hard to find those days, since we mistook messiness for coolness). She would go to the tiny stove which was placed in between two flights of stairs. Some would see the stove as just another fire emitting appliance, but ‘S’ saw it as something which lit a fire of hope in her heart, that there was edible food in her vicinity and that she would not have to face a day where she was so starved that she would have to consume that…..deep fried paneer. I would accompany her on those fire-of-hope-Maggi-expeditions and watch her eyes light up as soon as her turn to cook came, even if the wait before that was half an hour long. She would boil the water first, then put the masala(spices), slit open two green chillies, break the Maggi square into smaller chunks and then….pure alchemy.Sigh!

Another friend of mine got seduced by this whole concept of Maggi saving lives and giving people hope deal. She got something which looked like it had been recovered from the ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. She called it an appliance , a kettle which would help us make Maggi. So we sat around the ‘kettle’ like early men would have sat around a pile of stones with the intention of starting a fire. Our hearts were heavy with gratitude of being able to cook Maggi in the room and perhaps cholesterol due to gulping down golgappas(Indian street food) with pure oblivion to the concept of calories.

She turned on the switch to the electric heater. Smoke filled the entire room within seconds. Now, regarding the usage of electrical products in the hostel, we were not even allowed irons. But, every morning irons were exchanged amongst people with a towel covering the irons. We were in no mood to start a crumpled clothes fashion line. After the smoke started escaping the room, we switched the Mohenjodaro structure off. We sneaked out of the room to check if anyone had noticed the smoke. The entire floor’s fuse had blown out thanks to our kettle and we were immersed in complete darkness…and smoke. We thanked our stars and metaphorically dug the relic that had caused the blackout to happen.

Years later, Maggi found a permanent place in our schedule – Thursday nights. Every Thursday night me and my husband would rip open packets of Maggi as a welcome to the long awaited weekend. The steady accompaniment of Maggi in our house was (and still is) chill paneer which my husband is a pro at making. The recent Maggi ban in India due to suspected high levels of lead in Maggi, upset us a little, leading us to question our faith in the food that gave us so much joy. We switched to the tangier cousin of Maggi, i.e Ching’s and fell in love with it. The switch wasn’t easy though. I had a lingering guilt every time I opened my cabinet door to fetch Ching’s and saw Maggi staring back at me, reminding me of my betrayal towards it.

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