Monthly Archives: November 2014

“Fast Food” in India

America is known to love its fast food.  Well, the companies from America are slowly making their way over to India and India has its own fair share of “fast food” so I thought it would be interesting to share a bit about it.

The most common form of “fast food” here is the street food.  Little carts are set up all over the city on roadsides offering many things cooked to perfection in hot oil — like samosas.  The street food is cheap but I have yet to dare try any of it due to the reminders I get of the “delhi belly” experiences I have already experienced.  Let’s just say the trade off of being in bed for 3 days for a taste of the food is not worth it to me although there are many companies here who offer “street food” tours and claim it is safe to eat.

DSC01362
A local street food vendor

I have yet to see a drive-thru in New Delhi.  One of my sons says they have seen one out in nowhere that belonged to a McDonalds while on a long bus ride on a school trip.

There are several American “fast food” establishments here including McDonalds, KFC, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Subway, Quiznos, Kripsy Kreme, Pizza Hut and Dominos.

DSC01345

None of the above listed fast food establishments is exactly what you would find at home which should not surprise as their audience is Indian.  But let me share a few interesting differences about them:

WP_20131005_004

  • Of course there is no beef offered on a burger from McDonalds.  But they do have many chicken and paneer sandwich options.  They all have a kick to them due to the added green and red sauces and spices — Indians LOVE their spices!  Even KFC adds some type of spice in the breading of their chicken fingers.
  • One would think a simple French fry couldn’t be that much different from a McDonalds in America to one in India, but it does have a slightly different taste and I believe its due to the oil they are using.
  • Lunch meats at sandwich shops are NOT the same.  Adding fresh vegetables to the sandwich again is not worth the risk as the water it was washed in is questionable as well as how long it has been sitting out in the open.
  • The pizza establishments offer the largest variety of “veggie” pizzas I have ever seen.  Pepperoni is the one meat that can be found on a pizza but it is definitely different as well.
  • The only American fast food I have tasted here that tastes exactly the same is the Krispy Kreme donut — it arrived in New Delhi about a year ago.

DSC01349

Delivery is KING here.  If you walk past a Dominos, Pizza Hut or McDonalds, you will see many motorcycles lined up ready to take off with deliveries throughout the city.  Most restaurants offer delivery within a certain radius.

A couple of other restaurants we have tried in the malls include Chili’s, Johnny Rockets and California Pizza Kitchen.  Even though the menu will have very similar dishes, none of them taste the same.

DSC01348

So how often do we even eat “fast food” in India?  Let’s just say it is rare.  Tyler now has me packing him lunches each day to go to the office (I have found an upscale store in a mall that carries smoked turkey breast that tastes like home) and my kids would rather go home and scrounge around for food than say let’s grab something at McDonalds.  Whenever we land in another country the cravings for fast food hit, though, as my boys eye a “real” hamburger and see Del Taco calling their name!

Advertisements

W.O.W. at Corbett National Park by Hailey

Every year at AES the middle school shuts their classroom doors and heads out for a week “With Out Walls” — our WOW trip.  Each grade heads to a different location within India and the 6th graders went to Corbett National Park and spent 5 days enjoying life outside of school and outside of New Delhi.  We gathered at 4am on Sunday morning where we were divided into groups before heading out on a six hour bus ride (ha, ha, ha…. it was 8 hours on the way there and 12 hours on the return!  Okay, so the length of these trips was determined quite a bit by the pure number of bathroom and sickness stops made.  Let’s just say that I went to the bathroom in some very unique areas along the road.  No thanks on another long bus ride for a while.)  We arrived at our first destination on Sunday evening where we spent 2 nights at Ram Ganga.

Hailey's 6th Grade WOW trip to Corbett National Park 031

This was my favorite spot of the two locations we spent.  Some of the highlights included:

  • Hiking up to a small village and learning how to make fertilizer.  We literally took cow manure by the handfuls, placed our hand in water and added cow urine to the batter to get it just right so we could help stock their fertilizer for their crops.
  • We discovered how to make a natural shampoo by removing a limb of a certain tree, remove the bark and then placing the bark and the limb in the water to soak for 10 minutes before using as your shampoo.
  • Saw a “curry” leaf.
  • Learned how to purify water with a piece of cotton, a piece of cloth, a water bottle and the nature around us as we went on a river walk
  • Made jewelry with natural seeds bringing home some earrings for my mom.
  • Campfire
  • Playing capture the flag in the fields — it was so great to be outside in the wide open with nature around us and enjoying the swimming pool as well.

Hailey's 6th Grade WOW trip to Corbett National Park 019
The swimming pool at our first lodging location.

Hailey's 6th Grade WOW trip to Corbett National Park 017
Our “huts” where we slept.  It was nice to have a “western toilet” available.

Hailey's 6th Grade WOW trip to Corbett National Park 040

On Tuesday we swapped locations with the other half of the 6th grade as there are too many of us to stay at one location and do all the activities together.  The second location was called “The Den.”  Some of the highlights from this location included:

  • Painting a bus stop and cleaning up around it with a group called “Waste Warriors” which is helping villages stay clean.
  • Campfire with real s’mores — yes marshmallows were shipped in from the US.
  • Visited a local school where we danced with them, visited their classrooms and helped clean up the trash around their school.
  • Helped wash an elephant — yes, I really took some smooth stones, and as the elephant laid on its side in the river, we got to scrub him with the water and stones.  I was positioned near the lower back area and got sprayed several times by the elephant’s trunk as he helped distribute the water over his body as we scrubbed.  When the elephant was finished with the bath, he made sure to let us know as we promptly moved aside.

Hailey's 6th Grade WOW trip to Corbett National Park 079
On our hike to the school.

Hailey's 6th Grade WOW trip to Corbett National Park 095
Some of the students that we got to do activities with at their school.

Hailey's 6th Grade WOW trip to Corbett National Park 106
One of the classrooms.

Hailey's 6th Grade WOW trip to Corbett National Park 126
The elephant we got to scrub in the river.

Overall, it was a great week to just be outside of this massive city where we live and see nature and some wide open spaces.  After the LONG bus ride home (traffic here is more than unpredictable) I was happy to see my bed and finally take my own shower!

“Lookie Lou’s” with Opinions

A “lookie lou” is someone with no business being someplace who’s there strictly out of curiosity — like a crime scene or a fire ….. or an accident.  So a couple of week’s ago I was involved in my first “real” car accident where there was substantial damage done.  It is through this experience I learned that “lookie lou’s” in India are a bit different — they don’t just look, they bring a strong opinion to the scene as well, even if they are not an eye witness.

WP_20141013_002

Anyone who knows anything about India knows that the roads are crazy and it is hard to understand exactly what the rules are because no one follows them.  As my driver was taking me home from the market, an auto rickshaw did a number on our car, taking out the left headlight and damaging the front of the car.  I honestly was not looking up at the time of the incident, but when I got out and saw that there were about 8 little school children stuffed in that auto rickshaw, I was VERY grateful that they were all okay, which was a miracle in itself.  It was what followed that I want to highlight.

  • When an accident occurs here, with no regard to where they are on the road (like in the middle of it), both parties just stop and want to discuss.  I finally had to ask my driver if he would please just pull over to the side of the road so we weren’t blocking traffic.  I have seen two parties in an accident stop and start a fist fight right in the middle of the road totally oblivious to the number of cars backing up on the street.
  • EVERY one that is anywhere nearby (including several streets over) come out to join in the event.  I was the lone woman amongst the crowd of men that gathered including guards, people walking on the street and every motorcyclist that passed us by.  It did not matter if they witnessed the accident, they had something to add to the moment.  The opinions that were shared became very strong and animated.  Men were taking sides and as my driver pointed out to me, it is often the “richer” party expected to take blame as they have the money.  As all of it was spoken in Hindi I could not understand the words, but I sure could read the body language.

WP_20141013_001
Just a couple of the many men that gathered to express their thoughts and opinions.

  • In this hour long conversation over who did what, no police were ever involved.  The parties concerned (plus many others) hashed it out with acknowledgement that the auto rickshaw driver “was a poor man with no money” and drove away happy that he did not need to pay anything.  I drove away happy that no child was hurt and that the tempers never got to the point that punches were thrown.
  • In India, you do not insure a driver, an automobile is insured.  As a result, regardless of who was at fault or who was driving, our insurance on our car paid for a portion of it.  The amount we needed to pay, which was the majority, was merely a fraction of what an accident like that would have cost in the US.

We have had several small incidences where rickshaws or motorcycles have bumped up to the rear fender getting too close or side swiping the side view mirrors, but this accident confirmed exactly why we do not allow Hailey to ride in the car alone with the driver.  I was so grateful it was me and not one of my children, but if it had been one of my boys they would have at least blended in with the male population that wanted to do more than just “look.”