At 4 a.m. my sister made us a snack of samosas and tea to go while my bleary-eyed brother-in-law drove us to the airport to catch our Continental flight to India via . . . Newark, New Jersey, where we had a four hour layover, during which mayhem ensued, as the photo above indicates! Continental is one of the few airlines that still feeds you both on domestic and international flights, but we sure are glad we had those samosas and cha in the morning. Airline food has never been known for its culinary genius, or for being all that edible, and Continental is no exception. But the fact that they still feed you and don’t charge extra for bags is nice. For now at least.
The night before, alongwith some single malt whiskey, my brother-in-law offered me two great tips for traveling with Sona in India:
1) Go straight to Amritsar and buy a kirpan (dagger). When using it in a tight space like a bus or a train compartment, make small and incisive swings to inflict the most damage, while protecting Sona.
2) Buy a really thick karra (steel bracelet) also from Amritsar. This can be used like brass knuckles to beat someone with before using the kirpan.
As soon as we stepped off the plane, we were whisked away to India Palace Express for the best layover food ever. On the short car ride to Edison a..k.a. Little India, Sona’s mum got busy making calls to the chef, Rahim, a friend of theirs (his kids grew up with Sona), and ordered a variety of dishes–from the masssive family naan, which Sona ate all by herself (picture above explains it all), lamb chops, tandoori fish, malai chicken, mutter paneer, and of course, daal. The second we stepped into the restaurant, everything was ready to eat! After washing everything down with a refreshing glass of mango lassi and some mithaa paan, we headed to Sona’s parents’ house.
When Sona’s dad asked me if I wanted to have some shots, injections for hepatitis weren’t exactly what I had in mind. Fortunately, the shots weren’t painful and I barely felt the needle go in at all. As we chilled out, some of Sona’s relatives came over, and offered us both some more advice on travelling in India. Here were the two highlights:
1) “Don’t eat the food from the streets. You will become sick. There are plenty of good restaurants there like McDonalds. If you don’t want to go to McDonalds, go to Pizza Hut” – Raju Mama, Sona’s uncle.
2) “Don’t eat or drink anything with water in it. Not even bottled water because they just refill it with tap water. Make sure they boil the water in front of you. Drink chai, but best is to drink Limca or any other fizzy drink.”
Sona’s body composition is primarily made up of cha and soda, so this advice sat very well with her. We thoroughly enjoyed the layover, food, tips, chilling. But I could have done without the shots involving needles. In the meantime, we’re compromising on the New Jersey advice, so here’s to street food a plenty, lots of fizzy Limcas, cha, and some yummy McDonald’s cold coffee. We’re on our way!