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Kishore Singh: A swadeshi movement

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Our friend, swayed by the strong indictment of multinational potatoes in Parliament, determined not to take her grandchildren – as yet presumptive, neither of her children being married – to McDonald’s. “They will eat only potatoes,” she declared. That robust call was squashed when another friend, who works with McDonald’s, pointed out that the potatoes were, in fact, completely desi, having being grown in Gujarat.

That flummoxed poor Chanda who swallowed her and – both American – and argued that since the original potato saplings had been imported from California, her disinclination towards McDonald’s fries had validity. “By that logic, you’ll have to banish all potatoes from your diet,” chortled her husband, “since, as everyone knows, potatoes were imported from Ireland.” “Then I won’t eat potatoes again,” Chanda sighed weakly, being partial to both potato curry as well as aloo chaat, “in fact, I will only eat Indian food with no import-shimport, multinational-vultinational nonsense.”

My wife, who has little time for “pretentious nonsense”, immediately removed all hors’ de oeuvres from Chanda’s vicinity, inviting her rebuke – Chanda is partial to her snacks – but added for her benefit, “Sorry, all this is imported.” “But it’s only fried mirchi vadas, and a homemade salad,” protested Chanda, before her husband gave her a complete run-down – chillies weren’t Indian, nor were tomatoes; bell-peppers, broccoli, iceberg lettuce and baby corn were, of course, imports of a more recent vintage. “The salad,” pointed out my wife “is Italian, and I’m presuming you won’t like to include olive oil in your diet.” “Or cheeses,” said Sarla. “No more pizza,” added her husband, “no more pasta.” “No Thai curries,” I chipped in. “No Chinese, not even Maggi noodles at home,” crooned my wife.

“You’re all ganging up against me,” said Chanda in a martyred tone, “but I’ll prove I can survive comfortably with genuine Indian food as soon as you pour me another drink.” “Alas,” I said, “I’m constrained from offering you either bourbon or scotch, both imported, so if you’ll settle for good ol’ Old Monk rum, I can serve it with lemon or orange or pineapple juice, but not, I think, Coke or any other mixer, since they’re owned by MNCs.” “Surely I can have a glass of Indian wine,” Chanda suggested. “Tut-tut,” said my wife, “not with the grapes being imported.” “A beer?” asked Chanda. “Imported hops, dear,” said her husband.

Over the course of the evening, Chanda learned that she would be depriving herself of chocolates, understandably, but also cakes and most desserts which, if they didn’t have imported ingredients, were a produce of, or at least influenced by, — just as her toast in the morning, or wedge of quiche for lunch. No more vindaloos, nary a dhansak, eliminating chillies also meant saying goodbye to streetside momos, or gelatos from the cart – in fact, no dining out at all.

“And that’s just the food, dear,” said her husband, “I fear you will no longer want to ride in the car, since the fuel has probably been imported.” “No more flowers,” said Sarla dramatically, “because the saplings were originally imported from England.” “No more holidays abroad,” agreed her husband happily, “should I cancel our tickets to Greece?” “Don’t be silly, darling,” retorted Chanda, “I think I have a craving for McDonald’s fries right now and am ordering a portion – hands up those who want some.”

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