The Grey Chronicles


My Detox in India

I was fortunate enough to be sent with my boss for a week-long plant visit in Nagpur, India last August 2008. It was an enlightening trip, mind you, but some of the memories stuck with me that I could not help but write about it for now. While I was in India, I scheduled a series of posts about my draft thesis, anticipating that I might not be able to post anything during the trip.

We landed at Changi Airport near midnight, thus we were not allowed to go out to the city, but instead roamed around, shopped and half-slept at the airport lounge. Woke up at 6 a.m. for our flight to Mumbai.

We arrived at Mumbai on the 24th August via Singapore. We had at least one day stay at Mumbai because the flight to Nagpur was scheduled yet for the next day. Although there were four of us, the two went directly to another plant near Alibaug; while my boss and I were ferried from the airport to a guest house somewhere in Mumbai. We were rode in a Tata Motor van, a smaller copy of a Toyota SUV, driven by a native with his son in his right passenger seat. Halfway through the ride, which the car was driving in circles around an exclusive neighborhood, we—almost coincidentally—both requested the driver to open the windows because the hired car was suffocating us with the nose-penetrating smell of urine and nauseating odor of stale sweat! We arrived at the guest house about 6 p.m.; thus it took the driver about five hours to drive around Mumbai looking for it since our arrival from the airport.

At the guest house, managed by a good-natured Nepali, we treated ourselves, respectively, with a good bath among the naphthalene balls and a horde of cockroaches! At least the bed was clean. The Nepali cook also prepared for us noodles with lots of green pepper, fried chicken with chili and curry, and fried rice with green beans. We planned to go out to the city that night, but exhaustion brought by our sleep deprivation at Changi got the better of both my boss and I that we went directly to sleep as we would have an early morning the next day.



At about 4 a.m., the same driver—at least this time he had taken a body bath—with the same van, woke us up to ferry us back to Mumbai Airport. Unfortunately, maybe it was lost in translation, the driver dropped and left us at the international airport instead of the domestic terminal. Driver-hackers told us that it was some kilometers from where we were to the domestic airport for our flight to Nagpur and it would cost us $100 dollars. Luckily an airport policewoman clarified that the domestic was about a 10-minute walk from the international terminal. Loaded our bags on a cart and pushed it up to the second floor of the domestic terminal; just in time for check-in.

The Air India plane lifted-off at 9 a.m. and we reached Nagpur at about 11 a.m. We were met by a Human Resources manager, who accompanied us to the plant site in Kalmeshwar, where we arrived at past two in the afternoon. Settled us in separate rooms in the Guest House inside the plant site. The room contained a television showing mostly Indian shows, aircon and a toilet and bathtub.

Being a meat- and fish-eater, that day began my detoxification of all the carnivorous appetite I had for the past forty years. Lunch was served after two p.m. It consisted of chapatis and several servings of kidney beans with red curry; some leafy cauliflowers in white curry; a lot of cups of tea and a bottomless refill of coca-cola.

After a run-through the plant site until early evening, we took our dinner at the Guest House consisting of chappattis and several servings of kidney beans with red curry; some leafy cauliflowers in white curry; a lot of cups of tea and a bottomless refill of coca-cola. The cook asked us after dinner what we would like for breakfast the next day. My boss suggested some eggs and milk; and I suggested some bread and black coffee. We found out that they only served vegetarian food on the behest of the owner’s mother.

I rose early the next morning, 26 August, too early I think because of the two-and-a-half hour difference between Philippine and Indian time; that is, while my body clock told me it was already 8 a.m., but in this locality, it was only 5:30 a.m. Instead of going back to sleep, I read the book I was reading during the Singapore-to-Mumbai flight. Anyway, the cook prepared some toasted bread, a cup of goat milk for my boss and a cup of coffee for me—too sweet for my taste though that I thought he poured at least 1/16-kilo of sugar. Didn’t I say, black coffee? Oh, the kidney beans in red curry was still in the menu plus mud-oven baked chapatis, which smelled like flatulence once you bite on it! An added sweet was the cook’s creation became the highlight of the breakfast: sweetened coconut shreds in goat milk! What a taste!

In the afternoon, my stomach was grumbling and everything went out the other end in red! I told my boss, and he also had the same observation. Lunch and dinner had the same staple menu: chapatis and several servings of kidney beans with red curry; some leafy cauliflowers in white curry; a lot of cups of tea and a bottomless refill of coca-cola.

That night, I wondered whether vegetarianism was for me. Or anyone in this part of the world ever heard that there are a whole lot of different vegetables aside from kidney beans and cauliflower?

Disclaimer : The posts on this site are my own and doesn’t necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions.


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