I complete eighteen years in Delhi this June (a few of you on my FB timeline may have NOT even been conceived while I stared out of the window as the Poorva Express pulled out of the Howrah platform). But this is not about my 18 years in the National Capital. No, a single post can’t possibly suffice that.
This is about those 18 years and a pack of yellow curls called Maggi. A pack that like almost all other new-age things promises instant gratification. A pack that has needed minimal intervention of the human kind – yet had tremendous pull to rein in a raging tummy and keep all those (hunger) demons at bay.
Two hundred and sixteen months make eighteen years. And in those entire 18 years, I can safely say that not a single month has gone without me having consumed TWO packets of Maggi at least, if not more. By that simple calculation, while I do make for good brand endorsement without pocketing the moolah made by certain luminaries, I may have high lead content.
But who cared about lead content when hunger was a more pressing issue? When Mc Donald’s was still to Indianise its menu and prices and a Rs 30 burger was not what a college-going girl could afford. Lead was the last thing on my mind when I came home to a Girls’- only PG in tony Defence Colony. It was run by a retired Defence officer’s wife, who herself had no qualms about serving us hungry girls 2-week-old stale cooked kofta that possibly caused me more harm than ever any pack of Maggi did. Till date, I can’t look at kofta without feeling nauseated. With a 9:00 p.m. Curfew and a non-functional kitchen at our disposal, Maggi was the only thing that rescued us from homesickness and fatigue.
But it was not stale kofta alone that brought me closer to those curly things that gave such succour. Hostel life and hostel food brings out the stoic in all of us, usually! At the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, things were no different during that nine-month stay. Many an unpalatable dinner – comprising watery dal and half-cooked paneer – was doused with a midnight snack of Maggi and chips. Lead? Junk? Calories? Really?
It’s been more than a decade now that I have been working. Odd hours, shifts, erratic schedules, work emergencies, travel – I have done it all. For the past eight years, I have also had a cook who has ensured that karela-Papeeda ( and I love both!) are my regular fare while Maggi remains for the not-so-sunny-day when she decides to call in sick.
But Maggi still is a part of the larder. Which is what explains my minute-long silence – coupled with bewilderment – as I looked at the seven packets of Maggi that have been lying in the cupboard.
If I know me too well I know that I won’t give up on something that has seen me through my worst and helped me to my best.
Maybe you shouldn’t too.