My darling Maggi!

If the Maggie ban lasts, an underground trade in the product is likely to start soon.

What’s happening to the world these days? Everybody’s banning our favourite snack, Maggi noodles! Is this the beginning of the apocalypse?

In 1985, our family got its first TV set. As we sat glued, open-mouthed in front of the idiot box, I watched the cute ‘Bas, do minute!’ ads in awe. This was such a new concept! 

It was the time before instant food mixes; even rasam and sambar powders were not available in the market. And Indian food, comfort or otherwise, is all about cooking, taking anywhere between half an hour to ten to twelve hours. Even the fastest food, the upma, takes at least fifteen minutes, start to finish. And this magic food took only two minutes? Were you kidding? 

“Have you tried it?” This question was frequently asked by families and children in school. I actually remember the day my mother first made it. She didn’t like it, but I just fell for it. To me, the coolest kids were those who got to eat it every day for their evening snack or tiffin. We didn’t know it then, but it was the beginning of a cult.

Recently, one Maggi ad showed a girl demonstrating her independence by cooking Maggi for her mother. That ad mirrors my life. The first thing I learnt to cook was Maggi. On days when the hostel canteen was closed, I made Maggi. Many mothers could now let their unfledged chicks leave home – with Maggi available everywhere, they knew their chicks would get something to eat at all times. 

The practice continues to this day. Maggi noodles is one of the staples of the student culture. Maggi also has a fantastic reach abroad for the same reason. Kids that grew up gorging Maggi went abroad and set up a demand for this item. As a result, I’ve seen Indian stores in the US loaded down with Maggi sections.

Now, to see what’s happening in the world of Maggi. Apparently it is bad for us. Hah, as if we didn’t know that. One of the basic truths of life is that if a thing tastes wonderful, it is not good for you, ergo, Maggi noodles are bad for you. Now labs are telling us there is MSG and lead in it. Agreed, that is bad. But before we see Maggi packets being burned, shouldn’t we wonder what bad chemicals other packaged foods have too? And while we are at it, isn’t it time we tested our water and our air?

Meanwhile, there are other brands of instant noodles, but they just don’t touch you like the M brand does. I don’t think a true Maggi-ite will switch allegiance to other brands any time soon. So if the Maggie ban lasts, it is going to start an underground trade in the product. The way I see it, smugglers will quit moving gold biscuits, bars and bullion, and begin bringing in the gold-coloured packages of Maggi. Black market trade will flourish, and the government will have to establish an anti-Maggi taskforce.

And I will be able to make my fortune finally. Just two days before the bad news came out, I bought a jumbo 8-pack of Maggi. I plan to break up the packet and sell each piece for a ‘reasonable’ amount to desperate consumers. If you are interested, you can contact me on my secret phone line and set up a drop. A word of warning: no word to the police, or someone will get hurt…

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