Thursday, July 23, 2009


The first McDonald's restaurant opened in Chennai, in Anna Nagar. Though there has always been an outlet in the Ascendas Complex, this was the first stand-alone restaurant.

And a HUGE deal was made of the opening. I mean, newspapers, TV ads, flyers... everywhere you would possibly look! And it was in Anna Nagar, which is fast becoming a little city of its own.

Now I know the West (esp the United States) is making a huge fuss over the fat content and general unhealthiness of a McDonald's diet. The fact that absolutely nothing there is actually healthy - no, not even the salads. But give India a chance. This is the first time we have a McDonald's and people see it as a integral part of the Western world! So the place is ALWAYS packed with people. Here's a view of the line that actually went out the door!!

The menu is very very different from the typical one in the US. It has Indian-ized versions of their products, such as a spicy paneer salsa wrap, and several (actually, almost half) the menu choices are vegetarian. I was on a recent holiday in the US and we went to McDonald's a few times when we were on long drives and nothing on the menu was vegetarian except the french fries (and I'm not sure what oil they use for frying the potatoes either).

Here, everything is 100% guaranteed to be made in vegetable oil. And they do not use beef products at all. So there's fish and chicken... and vegetarian options like the McVeggie Burger or the McAloo Tikki! And the Big Mac? Its the Chicken Maharaja Mac! :)

We brought home the food and I would give it 2 stars (out of a possible 5). There was no flavour, and everything looked old and sad. But I'm also not a huge fast food fan, so maybe I'm prejudiced.

On another note, a friend who is pregnant went to a KFC outlet in Chennai and ordered fried chicken. They said their policy states they cannot serve their chicken to pregnant women because it is not safe!!! It leads you to ask, so why are you letting children eat it? Or anyone else for that matter? Is it a big leap to maybe start distrusting any food from KFC? Or from any fast food place in Chennai? Hmm. It really does make you wonder.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Surreal Conversation

"I can't believe this is happening in this day and age" - have you ever heard someone say that? I guess it means that when we have progressed in so many many areas, it's difficult to fathom how some things never change. I had one such conversation today

S: I wanted to talk to you. I might have to take some time off from work

Me: Is everything ok?

S: Well, I got my daughter married to a "nice boy" last year and had a very grand wedding, as you know (I went for the wedding. It was indeed "grand"). Everything was fine for a while. And then my daughter's mother-in-law (I'm calling her MIL from here on), started abusing my daughter.

Me: What? What kind of abuse? (I was thinking does it matter?)

S: What else? Dowry, only. I gave so much and I also spent so much on the wedding. But still MIL was very rude and shouting at my daughter and said I have to give her property and whatnot.

Me: You should report her to the police.

S: What's the use? If I do, and she and her son are put in jail for 7 years, then it's my daughter who will suffer. I spoke to the lawyer who said not to do that now.

Me: Hmm.

S: I think if they have a baby everything will be solved. But MIL will not let them. She calls her son correctly at 7.30 pm when he is just come from work and keeps him on the phone. Sometimes she asks him to come to visit her late in the night, and says she has some problem. She says she will throw my daughter out if she comes between her and her son.

(long pause)

S: MIL hit her so much that my daughter had to be taken to the hospital. Whenever the son is at work, MIL beats up my daughter and makes her do demeaning things.

Me: What about the boy's father? What does he say?

S: He's just a "dummy". He just sits there - just a namesake father.

Me: I still think you should report to the police. If more people thought about the crime, maybe it wouldn't happen. When you are scared that they will take their anger out on your daughter, its difficult to see the crime taking place.

S: Anyway. My health is suffering. I wish she will get pregnant then everything will be okay. I hope she does not send my daughter home.

The conflict. Doing the right thing vs. the well-being of your daughter. I can't believe this is an actual conversation I had this morning. S is a high-grade manager, making a decent amount of money, educated. Daughter is educated (with an MBA), and married to a successful banker.

Are you shocked? Or are you saying "Yea Yea This Happens Everywhere"?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Defending India

Warning: This is a rant. Hey, it's my blog and I'll rant if I want to.

I'm tired of people dissing India. Constantly. Oh Indian politicians suck. Indian roads suck. Indian behavior sucks. And let me tell you, hypocrisy sucks.

If you are going to sit in your nice comfortable well-furnished apartment in London or New York City or wherever and continue complaining about how "you just can't spend more than two weeks in India because the pollution and lack of cleanliness is getting to you", this is what I have to say "Don't Come!!". We didn't invite you in the first place.

I don't get it. I understand India is dirty, its even downright filthy in places. But let me tell you, Indians want it to be clean too. With 50 people on an average using a hospital restroom in ONE HOUR, vs 1.5 people in 2 hours in the US, yes, the restrooms are going to be dirtier.

And please don't even for a single moment imagine that you are "in touch" with India just because you read The Hindu online version and watch NDTV and Sun TV. You're not. If you don't live in India, you're not in touch with the country. And you're definitely not helping.

So stop with the complaining because your white shirt got a little yellow because the water in India is so bad. Or you got a little bit of Delhi Belly eating from the five star restaurant. Or that train travel "just isn't what it used to be when we were growing up". Stop the pretense. You left India because you wanted to - not to make India proud or to give back to India. You wanted a better life for yourself, which is exactly how it should be. So don't start pretending now.

As I said, it's a rant. One more thing - if you don't like it, don't come. I think those who live here are trying to do the best we can to make India better, and we don't need you to come here just to tell us how bad it is.