A few days ago, HRH the Queen of Kutch told me that I was too much of an `Angrez`. I assumed that the national – anti national – sedition debates were troubling her. So I asked what she meant by the fact that she thought I was too much of an `Angrez`?
I was witheringly told that my likes and dislikes, such as, dislike for Bollywood movies, Bollywood music, Bhel Puri for dinner and so on and so forth and my likes for all things Western, all made me an `Angrez’.
I was hurt, I was stung. I did not consider myself an `Angrez’ at all. I am an Indian, I love my country, and I will never leave India. I wondered how I could correct this impression that she had. Then, one evening while watching debates on patriotism on TV, during an advertisement break, I had my answer.
Baba Elaichi. This was something that would make me a `Desi’ like all of us. Akshay Kumar endorses the product, and, I like Akshay Kumar. Obviously, products like Baba Elaichi such as Pan Parag, Rajnigandha et al are something that sort of really signify and indicate our Indianness, and these products have a huge market. People are forever launching spoonful’s into their mouths. I decided to buy a tin of Baba Elaichi. What could be better to prove my Indianness?
There was one minor problem. This being the first time in my 52 years that I was buying such a product, I had no idea as to what kind of store does one go to? A street side paanwalla, or a general store or a supermarket? I had no clue. HRH the Queen of Kutch to the rescue once again. Rescue or sheer determination to make me a `desi’ I do not know.
While buying some Samosa’s from the neighbourhood shop she asked the young Sardar at the counter where she could get Baba Elaichi? He beamed and said that he stocked Baba Elaichi. So along with the Samosa, a tin of Baba Elaichi was carried home.
I was overjoyed. I would be `desi’ again.
You may well be wondering what Baba Elaichi is. To answer this, I reproduce from their fascinating website. I offer no comments on the contents.
“BABA Elaichi is a refreshing, exotic and aromatic mouth freshener coated with silver. Blended with the finest seeds from the green cardamom pods, saffron and 999 grade silver, BABA Elaichi is both natural and refreshing mouth freshener whose effects lasts all day. The silver used to coat the cardamom is processed by using German machines making it pure and refined.
Elaichi has been used for generations in India. Every household in India uses cardamom is some manner throughout the day. BABA Elaichi has been at the forefront when it comes to providing the people with premium quality silver coated cardamom. Being a natural product, BABA Elaichi also improves blood circulation, improving digestion, releasing stomach cramps. Being a detoxifying agent, Elaichi also helps in cleaning the body and enhancing appetite.”
This was good. Not only would I become `desi’ but I would have the added advantage of improving my health in ways I could never imagine.
I looked at the little tin. It was certainly well packaged. The precious Elaichi was packed in an airtight little tin with a lid like a beer can. You got a plastic lid to fit onto the tin once the metal lid was removed. The tin itself was, shall we say, discrete; it would fit very snugly into a Safari Suit pocket.
It was time for the taste test. I opened the tin. I could see the promised cardamom seeds covered with silver, and, flecks of Saffron, which as you know is the most expensive spice in the world, more expensive than Gold. Wow, this was going to be really good.
Brimming with self-confidence I popped a few seeds into my mouth. Good grief! It was rather strange. Deeply, truly and insanely synthetic, with the strong taste of Saccharine mixed. It tasted like what I would imagine, drinking a spoon of perfume. It really was something, and something not really pleasant. This was certainly not my cup of tea. It was ghastly!
So, at the end of the day, I am Rs 120 poorer and I am not a `desi’. I hope that is not seditious