Ludhiana: Plums,Pepsi and Butter Chicken

I frequently survive on weird diets, often leading to mouth ulcers, currently one of which has been tormenting me for the past 4 days. Pepsi and Namkeen, half a glass of juice, no fruits …the entire diet plan is vague and rarely effective in helping me maintain my health. An over heated body only adds to the misery.

There have however, been situations where I’ve had to survive on a diet because there were no options. One such situation presented itself during my MBA summer internship. I had been placed with Taegu Tec – a leader in making cutting tools for engineering purposes. A part of the Berkshire Hathway group now, this company is based out Daegu in Korea and hence the name.

I was assigned to do some market research for the firm and understand opportunities and flaws in terms of its business. My region was north and it meant travelling all across the industrial belts of Delhi, Noida, Manesar, Daruhera, Haridwar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh.

It was also a time when my parents and my sister had gone off to Kerala and as such, I was left to fend life on my own with a house to take care off. The start wasnt very auspicious though and after a short trip to Haridwar, on coming back, I realized that I had forgotten to put the fish back in the freezer. The house had a stench which was unbearable and I was only glad that the neighbours hadnt bothered to call the police for enquiry, thereby saving me from embarrasment and a bruised ego. 

I had received an initial advance of Rs. 10,000/- from the company for my travel and accomodation.Ideally, for a college student, this should be more than sufficient. However, money was disappearing fast and in my extravagent avtaar of travelling only by Shatabdis and staying in slightly expensive hotels, I soon realized that I might just not be able to make it back to Delhi.

I was in Ludhiana when this realization hit me.After an initial bout of panic attacks, I finally sat down and budgeted the left over amount, assigning cash to each meal I was to have and the hotel and travel expenses for each day. I realized that I could pay off the hotel bills and the travel expenses and for the trip back to Delhi but I would have to compromise on food.As fate would have it, Ludhiana, the land of chicken and kebabs was to lose a foodphile to the one challenge that affects all: cash.

And so the next 7 meals across 3 days comprised of a bottle of Pepsi(500 ml) and 3 plums. I loved plums and the Pepsi helped in achieving a full stomach and the optimism of being able to make it back to Delhi( where I could borrow from my aunt) kept me going .

On the third into the diet and my last day in Ludhiana, I reassessed my situation and to my utter relief, realized I had saved more than intended which meant I had just enough to splurge on one last good non veg meal in Ludhiana.

Sitting in my hotel room, I ordered for a plate of butter chicken and naan and felt my taste buds watering in excitement and anticipation.With my stomach growling and my eyes shifting constantly from the TV to the door, I knew this was going to be well worth the wait.

After a long 20 minutes the food was in, a thickly orange gravied chicken, rich and appealing served with soft, buttery naan. My senses approved it and my mouth was eager to take big, meaty bites and chew to satisfaction.

The excitement was, however, short lived. Somehow, my stomach had adapted to my meagre diet of plums and pepsi and was now refusing to accept the flavours of the wonderfully prepared chicken.

5 minutes later I retched, spewing forth all I had eaten. Lunch, despite the butter chicken, comprised of 2 leftover plums and half a bottle of pepsi.

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