This is something that needs the immediate attention of Lays Chips (PepsiCo). In the last 7 days, I have observed and been through four cases of intense sickness and dehydration followed by visits to hospitals and Emergency Rooms after eating Lays American Style Cream and Onion chips (the green packet).
Case 1. My nephew (aged 7) got a packet of Lays American Style Cream and Onion in Bangalore on Nov 1 and had it at around 7 pm. From 12 am, he started throwing up. He had eaten only home-cooked food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The only thing outside of his normal food routine was this packet of Lays American Style Cream and Onion chips. He threw up 8 times throughout the night. He was given medication, ORS, but nothing worked because he was just too sick and threw up anything that was given to him.
He was taken to the doctor in the morning and given medicines.
Case 2. My sister-in-law ate Lays American Style Cream and Onion chips on Nov 2 and had a violent case of nausea and sickness. She had had basic home food and nothing apart from this packet of chips. She too had to be given medicines and ORS.
Case 3. My son (aged 5) bought a packet of Lays American Style Cream and Onion from Namdhari’s in Bangalore, Whitefield at 12 pm last Friday, Nov 4 and had them. We came back home and he had a very light home-cooked lunch. At around 5 pm, he started to throw up violently. His lips became dry immediately and we administered ORS. He threw up multiple times and was extremely dehydrated. He had to be given medicines and ORS until the next day. Note that everyone else in the family was fine and he was the only one to have eaten the chips.
Case 4. My friend got a packet of the same Lays American Style Cream and Onion on Nov 7 and had it in her office. Almost immediately, she started throwing up and had to be taken to the hospital where she was put on saline drips until late night because she was too dehydrated from the violent throw ups. She is still weak today and is on rest.
Mapping all the cases together, the only common factor here is Lays, specifically the American Style Cream and Onion chips. I urge Pepsico to please look into either their ingredients, or the hygiene of the manufacturing units or particular batch numbers for clarification before more people go through this ordeal.
Eating icecream with a four-year old is a hilarious event in itself. However, all my sympathies and empathies lie with the icecream being discussed. The creamy journey of its life turns out to be pretty bad if it falls in the hands of a 3 or a 4 year old. This is what happens.
We buy an icecream. The stick comes out of the icecream wrapper which gets crumpled within a flash of a second, and I hear ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and slurps of visual satisfaction as the entire icecream makes its grandiose show. Ryan looks at it from all angles trying to decide which is the best bet for the first lick.
Me: ‘Eat it fast. It will melt.’
My words fall just next to where the icecream wrapper was thrown a few seconds back.
After a complete visual survey, Ryan licks it. His eyebrows shoot high. His eyes become wider while his lips spread to his ears on both sides. I hear a never-ending ‘ummmmmmmmmmm’ which makes me take a sly look at the icecream. I find it still holding itself strong.
Somewhere close by, I hear the loud squeak of a squirrel. Ryan’s icecream reverie is almost broken and he looks up at a suspected tree with queer eyes. I notice the white droplet of icecream on his nose. One look at the icecream and I see it drip. One drop falls on the ground. A white circle; radius, circumference, and area undetermined.
That’s the beginning.
It’s starting. It’s starting to melt. It’s starting to melt.
The first tissue comes out of the wad that I bring along for our icecream sojourns. The top of the icecream is the low hanging fruit for him, and he works at it faster. I remind him that the bottom of the stick also needs some attention.
Me: ‘Eat the lower side too. It will melt.’
He looks at the lower side of the icecream. His warm mushy looks melt the lower end which rivers down his right hand, right down to the elbow. Had it been a few decades earlier with the same scene between me and my mom, by now I would have got a resounding whack on my back reminding me to eat it faster.
I am a more patient mother.
More tissues come out from the thinning wad, this time faster, one pulling the other, and the other pulling out more of the others frantically.
Racing against a trickling icecream is a tricky job for a mom. Jumping to my feet, I run to the store next to me and get a paper plate to hold the gathering white puddle. The icecream is in sad danger.
Soon I realize that the paper plate is not enough to hold the white liquid. It needs depth. I run back to the store and get a paper glass this time. What a strange turn of incidents for the icecream. The unsuspecting big bodied thing gets reduced to a mere colorless puddle that is collected in a paper glass.
Finally, it’s time. The momentous moment when the icecream soup is to be sipped. And it gets sipped.
The icecream. gets. sipped.
Here ends the sad life of an otherwise cool icecream.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a pic of the icecream being sipped because I was too busy wiping my hands off the sticky liquid.
I was going through Ellen Barry’s article in the New York Times that talks of how young rural women are moving to the city (Bangalore) with hopes of leading their own lives. Coincidentally, a friend of mine shared the same article on Facebook highlighting this section from the well-researched piece: ‘Each morning, before she is allowed to eat, the daughter-in-law must wash the feet of her husband’s parents and then drink the water she has used to wash them.’ My friend was almost flabbergasted to note that such practices still exist. Knowing that such neanderthal practices do exist, I replied to her, and a vigorous discussion ensued.
To be honest, a lot of such ignominous practices, or norms, rule women’s lives in our society, a little too strictly in the rural areas, and masked in the urban. It is surprising to note that a few of my friends too (highly educated, working in the top tech firms of the world) have been through these ‘societal norms’ after marriage; some of which, if not the same, are similar, and equally abominable. A few examples are as follows:
The daughter-in-law is not supposed to sit on a chair or a bed in the presence of other family members. Her ‘place’ is on ‘the ground.’ She is supposed to sit on the floor.
A daughter-in-law is supposed to touch the feet of her in-laws EVERY SINGLE MORNING. The sad part is that this rule has to be strongly followed even if the woman is heavily pregnant.
A newly-wed woman should not eat her meals in front of other members of her family. She should be eating away from anyone’s view, especially of the elders, and that can be in a dark, dank, storeroom!
Why? I ask why?
Note that I’m not waging a war against in-laws here. I’m pointing out the daily oppression our daughters have to go through. Silently. At home.
If you dig deeper rationally, you will notice that the blanket of our customs and traditions is so huge, and so thick that a lot of such practices are easily covered under its hood. Our girls suffer from some of these draconian rules, but they are expected to follow them. The moment a girl revolts, she becomes a stigma. Questioning or not willing to adhere to these ‘customs’ exacerbates the situations and makes her the wretched one.
Coming back to the discussion we had on Facebook, someone suggested boycotting the author of the article because she was portraying India in a bad light. I found the comment funnily fanatical. Rather than boycotting the author, we should boycott some of the oppressive and demeaning traditional practices that are widely prevalent here. We can choose not to speak about these maladies, because sub-consciously, we want to maintain the status quo of the society; but at the same time, we can’t really squelch the courageous one who chooses to talk about and bring such issues to the forefront. Sadly, the patriarchy ingrained in us makes us immune to these social ills around us, and we pretend that they don’t even exist.
In addition, the roots of such social malaise are so deep that thinking of changing anything makes us shudder. Uprooting them will probably take a few lifetimes. It is often sad to note that our with our education, we have not moved too far ahead from where we started.
Nevertheless, a change can start somewhere. It has already started. The fact that a Sashi or a Prabhati (from the article) can garner enough courage to be the aberrant daughters and move out of their homes is enlightening.
We can start the change with small steps.
In our own homes.
The article referred to in the post above is by Ellen Barry and appeared on the New York Times on September 24, 2016.
Wow! What a wonderful news, and what a wonderful tweet from @chicagotribune! ‘Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics.’
You know what would have been better and, perhaps, less atrocious than this particular tweet? A photo of the Bears’ lineman with the medal around his neck and the tweet saying ‘his wife got it in the Rio Olympics.’ That would have got them more clicks, more ‘retweets,’ and more ‘likes’ on their Twitter handle.
Are we really in 2016? An Olympics champion doesn’t have a name because the champion is a woman? Or does she not deserve being called by her own name? Was she born with that name ‘Wife of Bears’ Lineman?’
I fail to understand!
For the information of the Chicago Tribune, her name is Cory Cogdell-Unrein.
She has worked hard at getting where she is at now, and Chicago Tribune happily robbed her of the credit she is due by totally expunging her name from the tweet. Obviously, they are looking at more of a buzz about themselves, but such puerile ways don’t really help.
In their defense, they may want to strike a chord with their Bears followers by mentioning that the ‘wife of a Bears’ lineman’ was a winner at the Olympics, but when it is a stand-alone piece of news dedicated to the Olympian winner, she.deserves.to.be.called.by.her.own.name.
An earnest request to the Chicago Tribune: If you are putting up such a news especially about a woman, can you please make sure you do justice to the person in the news and give her the credit that is rightly hers? You will still get your social media love that way.
“All day long, I sit at my sunny window, staring at the cerulean sky dotted with real birds and motor-birds. I look at the moms and dads who are forever running to work in their hurried best, and I feel so blessed watching them from my eighteenth floor balcony. All day long. When I’m not looking at the sky, I lounge on the sofa, twirling fresh hand-picked Red Globe grapes in my mouth, watching soaps on the tele and sipping on luxurious teas; the hedonism of my ‘housewifey’ life interspersed with peppery talks with my equally jobless friends about my MIL.”
That’s what I do being a stay-at-home mom.
Thank you for the amazing question, and yes, I do notice the enchanting disbelief in your eyes.
It would be a meaningless cliche if I tell you what the question is.
Stay-at-home mom. A term that a lot of people often use disdainfully while trying to figure out what these moms do the whole day, and while just shrugging them off as housewives who don’t know how to ‘kill’ their time. But that is not what I want to talk about here. The point that I’m trying to make here is that we often overlook the real strong women behind these mom-faces, and how we stereotype them as just ‘women with kids’.
Strangely, and sadly enough, what the world fails to understand is that stay-at-home moms have made a wilful decision of being with their kids at their formative years, a decision that is unparalleled in its own, and a decision that is a product of conscious deliberation and extreme gumption. They have not made a sacrifice. They have chosen to be with their kids wilfully. The sad part is that we often end up putting these women into a nondescript bucket without actually looking at who they are as individuals. We never ask them what they are capable of because we have already written them off. They are perceived as just the bearers and the rearers of babies.
I’ve personally tested two scenarios: the first, in which I’ve introduced myself as a mom only; and the second, in which I’ve mentioned that I’m a budding entrepreneur. The second introduction sparks interest and follow-up questions appear (obviously), but the first introduction dies a natural death at the mention of ‘mom.’ It is true that there is no intention to belittle, but not a single person has ever asked what I did before I became a mom.
Let’s face the truth that being with a mini-me 24/7 is taxing and emotionally draining. We all have been there, and we all have felt isolated at some point in time. On the positive side, this is when moms make friends; at the park, the paediatrician’s, at daycares or at nurseries. During the time when I was a complete SAHM, I’ve made a lot of new friends who are moms; mostly stay-at-home. And what I’ve discovered is that behind a lot of these moms are actual strong identities, strong people, intelligent minds. In the last 4 years, I’ve met mums who have been Professors, Lecturers, Illustrators, Biologists, Language experts, and Artists. It has been fascinating to know such wonderful people from different spectrums of life who have revealed gems of personalities beneath their frizzy uncombed hairs and faces tired with babysitting. However, the same professors, biologists, artists are often quietly put aside as just mothers, with no focus on who are as individuals, or who they have been.
Having said everything above, it is also extremely positive to note that most of today’s SAHM’s have ignored the naysayers and are not letting themselves just be moms. They are fulfilling all their motherly duties, and are actually carving out time to nurture an interest, or a passion, or a business right from their homes. They are still growing as individuals while being moms. That is exactly what can bring about a massive change in the way they are perceived.
We went to Byblos for our anniversary dinner. We shortlisted Japanese and Lebanese cuisines for dinner, and we settled for Lebanese, and Byblos made us feel very happy about our choice.
We were given a warm welcome by a Lebanese steward! He claimed that Byblos served genuinely, undoubtedly, and profoundly authentic Lebanese food. We did believe him and led him to help us choose our dishes, which he was extremely happy to help with. We also noticed that the chefs working in the open kitchen were Lebanese. In fact, the place is owned and managed by the Head Chef, Mr. Ammar, who is Lebanese. Even his business card smells of heavenly aromatic spices. Thereafter, we did not have an iota of disbelief about the authenticity of the place and the food.
While the kid asked for the Chicken Bouillon soup, we went for the Byblos Mixed Grill. The Chicken Bouillon soup was just the right taste for a 4 year old, non-spicy, a little creamy, and served with croutons. The Mix Grill that we ordered was a platter of Lamb Chops, Lamb Kofta, Lamb Tikka, Shish Taouk (chicken kabab), and Arayess. Arayess is pita stuffed with meat. The grill platter was served with a basket of fluffy pita breads.It is a slightly leavened bread that has a pocket that can be stuffed with various fillings and had. I must mention their Pita breads. The Pita that Byblos served was warm, soft, and puffed up. They looked and tasted fresh. The kid absolutely loved them, not to mention that we finished the entire basket within a few minutes of it being placed on the table. Coming back to the grill, the meat was good, soft and well marinated. However, the entire platter was strewn with french fries, and we wondered why. The steward explained that people in Lebanon loved fries with their grills. It is almost an inevitable part of a grilled platter.
We were hoping that there would be some hummus to go with the Pita and the grill, but since there was none, we ordered a bowl. It looked wonderful with a creamy yet firm consistency, and there was a well of olive oil in the center of the bowl. We licked it clean until the bowl remained just a white bowl.
For those who don’t have Lebanese food often, tasting the Shawarma is inevitable when they try the cuisine. Therefore, we ordered a Shawarma, and it appeared soon with another basket of Pitas. We actually returned the Pita basket because we were almost getting full and wanted to eat only the Shawarma. The chicken Shawarma had just the right amount of spices and it was served with garlic mayonnaise. As expected, there were french fries on the side, and this time we were not surprised. Haha! The thin slices of the chicken were good to be stuffed in the pita but we had it just plain and they tasted just wonderful. Even the little one tried it and asked for more of it repeatedly.
I must mention that we tried a drink Ayran which is almost close to the Indian Buttermilk except that the yogurt is more sour and has garlic.
We didn’t order any desserts but Mr.Ammar sent over some Baklava and also asked us to taste a new dessert called Halawa Alkeshta that they were introducing. The pastry chef came over to describe how he made the Baklava. He mentioned how he uses chopped pistachios in between layers of filo (dough for making baklava) and holds it firm with sugar syrup. The Baklava was medium sweet and the chopped pistachios in the center gave it a soft crunch. The other new item on their dessert menu was soft sweetened cheese rolled within a sweet coating and garnished with chopped nuts and seeds. There are some desserts that almost put you into a sweet coma, and this was one of those. It melted in the mouth and the sweet Arabic aromas lingered on for long. We loved it, and we told the Head Chef how much we loved it!
Overall, we had a great dinner at Byblos. They are warm to their guests, and actually, they have a very loyal following. By the time we left, we saw a lot of guests coming in who were familiar faces to the staff there, and that included Indians as well as Arabs and other expats. There was another elderly couple sitting at the table adjacent to us who mentioned how much they loved Byblos and why they loved it!
One last nugget: ‘Byblos’ is an old and famous coastal town in Lebanon, and it is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The restaurant is named after the place.
You must head to the restaurant if you are craving for authentic Middle Eastern food, or if you are keen to experiment with a new cuisine.
100 ft Road, Indiranagar
10 am Tuesday morning. Table number 1. My favorite spot.
Two silent figures walked in. Without a word, they walked over to the ordering corner and mumbled out an order. I tried not to hear. I tried not to overhear. The decibels were too low to be overheard. They sat down at a huge table meant for eight people. Never mind. I waited for them to talk. Either they were too sleepy, or they were just silent people. Two glasses of Cutting Chai appeared before them. Silent sips. Silent sips. No slurps like us, the uncouth lot who force out a lung full of air into the small glass and then slurp as if we are drinking an ocean. Still silent sips. Not a word and they went out. I was stunned at their silence. Figures of silence!
You must know that the cafe Masala Chai both absorbs and exudes a lot of energy. Energy from all the huge groups of people who throng here. Office goers who are perennially in a hurry, moms always drained of their energy, the elderly who don’t know what to do with their time, people like me who want to watch all the other groups of people, bawling kids, running kids, and lots more. I love to watch these people and try to make stories just by watching them. Masala Chai is one of my favorite places to hangout and do just that. I can probably sit here for hours at my favorite table with endless cups of chai and watch all my fellow chai drinkers there. Of course, only if the kid is at school.
This beautifully cozy place is also a thriving epicenter of conversation. I don’t eavesdrop because its a sin. I just let my auditory canals do the only job they can do. They pick up strains of conversation which are loud enough for the place anyways. You really can’t blame me if I note down what I watch and what I hear. Today is one of those happy days when I’m here writing.
Ok, now back to people watching.
Two women came in. Tall, hefty, they seemed too big for the quaint shop. Nevertheless, everyone seems miniature when it comes to the craving for chai. They sat at the table next to me. One of them went over to order while the other one seated comfortably. In a few minutes, a plate of Omelette and two earthenware cups of chai were placed on their table. While a lot of incoherent talk happened here, another guy outside the shop seemed to be walking by in a hurry. He crossed the shop, walked back, seemed to be in a double mind to enter, looked strayed, looked at his watch, and with a ‘what the hell’ attitude, came in. He was carrying a ‘man bag’ as Joey from Friends would say. Impatient from the hurry, he ordered a ‘chai to go’ while tapping at the ordering counter with his fingers. The tut, tut, tut, tut, tut, tut from his finger tapping hurry continued until a paper cup was given to him. Off he went, and the constant ‘tuts’ of the shop died down.
Even before the guy-in-a-hurry had entirely moved out of my line of vision, a pair of zebra striped t-shirts walked in. They took the table opposite to me. They were wearing almost identical tees. One of them went over to place an order, and turned and looked back at me a couple of times. He had this quizzical look on his face. I turned back to my laptop. He placed an order and sat with his friend/colleague. Even before he had completely sat down, he decided to go out to the nearby grocer, and in a few minutes walked back in with a packet of spiced peanuts. I wanted to go over and tell him ‘hey, I got one of these packets yesterday. I ate the peanuts too. They are very fattening, you know,’ but I held back my urge to do that. Sandwiches and chai were delivered at their table. One of them spoke of how his company’s stocks soared within a few months of his joining the firm, while the other ate in silent affirmation of the discourse. He threw in a few sniggers and a few strains of laughter to massage the already inflated speaker. Colleagues, definitely.
Again, two women entered. One of them was talking, and the other was listening. I couldn’t hear a sound from the woman talking. I didn’t know what her voice was like. I saw her lips move in fervent animation, but I didn’t hear a sound. And then I noticed something! She was wearing a shirt, and I had the same one. I hate it when I see someone else wearing the same shirt that I have. I wanted to run away from there. But I sat on, my lemon tea was too nice to be left alone.
I turned to see a United Colors of Benetton walk in. But I didn’t see any colors on him. He was in white. There was not an iota of colors on him. Possibly all the colors had united to form white. Thats what White is, correct? United colors? And his rich cologne wafted out to mask all the sweet smell of the food around. Aargh!
By this time, the zebra-striped tshirts had left, and the two women mentioned above substituted for them at the opposite table. In the meanwhile, United Colors had already taken a seat and also taken out his sunglasses. He put them on and pulled the newspaper from the next table. Suddenly, a group of professionals came in. A lot of friendly chatter and laughter happened. In contrast to the first two figures of silence who had come in, these people were the figures of speech. Laughter flowed freely and confusion happened on who-wants-what-chai and finally someone ordered. I noticed United Colors trying to make his way out with a grim ‘excuse me.’ The whole talking group sat at a big table. 4 guys and 5 women. Two women talked of watching a video of a marriage in which the groom had accidentally fallen down during the wedding. And then they cracked up again. One of the guys looked very friendly and was the story teller of the group. He talked of Leonardo DiCaprio and the Oscars, and the rest of the group laughed animatedly. They decided to change their seats and went outside the cafe to stand and have their discussion.
I noticed I had already had three glasses of cutting chai and one mug of lemon tea by now. I checked the time and realized it was time to pick up the kiddo from school. Off I went, happy, and looking forward to another day of people watching here.
If you haven’t read my introductory post on Masala Chai (my favorite chai shop in the neighborhood), do read it here.
Also, watch out for my next write-up on Masala Chai.
My mornings start with masala chai. At Masala Chai.
Every morning, a steaming hot earthenware cup of sweet milky masala chai is kept before me at my favorite table. I slurp, and I sip, taking in the sweet aroma of the hot chai while the steam fogs up my glasses.
Unmistakably tucked among a series of shops in Brigade Metropolis, Masala Chai is a quaint ‘tea-room’ (as the friendly owners call it) and a gem of a place when it comes to Indian chai (tea) and snacks.
It is a small place that attracts hordes of people, office-goers, entrepreneurs, writers, the elderly, young moms and old moms, tired moms, kids, young crowds; you name a person in and around 5 kilometers who doesn’t visit this place, and I will treat you to a chai and a snack here. I will.
I love this place. Absolutely. It is like my second home. If you are looking for me and I’m not at home, you will find me here sipping cups of their famous cutting chai.
First, let me tell you about the tea here. They serve a variety of Indian chai. Cutting Chai, Masala Chai, Assam Chai, Darjeeling Chai, Black Chai, Lemon Chai, and Ginger Tulsi Chai. Cutting Chai is the famous ginger tea of India, milky and boiled with loads of ginger. Sweetened or unsweetened; as you would like it. Masala Chai is chai with a lot of Indian spices like cardomom, cloves, pepper, and some ginger too. These spices add a zing to the sweetness of the chai that almost shakes and stirs you up. The Assam Chai here has a very delicate flavor. Their Darjeeling Chai is one that oozes garden freshness. Very refreshing, and a lovely golden brown in color, this Chai leaves a lingering taste for long. Usually had unsweetened and without milk.
What also is a speciality for them is their Lemon Chai. Fresh lemon juice is squeezed into a golden mug of blonde chai. No milk, obviously. Once you take a sip, you can’t miss twirling it around in your mouth savoring its warm sweet but fruity flavor.
The other forms of beverages available here are the traditional ‘Filter Kapi,’ hot chocolate, and cold coffee for the summers. With the heat touching the stratosphere, they also serve fresh lime juice.
Here is their Chai menu.
Here are the lip-smacking snacks menu they offer.
As you can see, the snack options are varied. Mostly Indian, they stir up quite a hefty and savory ‘samosa,’ a spicy mix of potatoes and nuts covered in a wheat dough layer and then fried. Another fast-moving-consumer-snack for them is the Indian ‘Pakoda,’ onions deep fried in a spicy batter of chick-pea flour. Also notable snack options are the ‘Dabeli,’ buns stuffed with spicy potatoes and layered with pomegranates, the ‘Chicken Mayo Sandwich,’ ‘Bombay Sandwich,’ ‘Egg, Cheese & Crunchy Onion Roll,’ Masala French Toast’ which is more of an Indian version of the French Toast, ‘Paneer Sandwich’ or cottage cheese sandwich, and the ‘Chilli Cheese Toast.’
We love this place so much that we have stopped making breakfast at home for the two of us. We walk, we jog, and then we head straight to this place for chai and breakfast. They cook up a variety of Omelettes, cheese burst, mushroom stuffed, spiced. Also notable on their menu for breakfast is the ‘Homestyle Sandwich,’ the ‘Egg Bhurji’ or scrambled eggs. Couple them with Chai, and it makes for a wonderful Indian breakfast.
While you are reading this, I’m busy watching people here at Masala Chai and writing while savoring another glass of piping hot Cutting Chai. Do watch out for my next post.
Oh and yes, do check out the 360 degree photo (panoramic photo) of Masala Chai. Click on the play button to see the panorama. The photo credits go to mayodip.com.