Neither the fever, nor the sneezing ceased the last few days. Nose blocked, taste buds redundant, appetite missing, the last thing I wanted to do was to scratch my head over what to feed my empty stomach that would be fast to cook as well as good to eat. And I knew exactly what I wanted to eat.
My association with Maggi dates back to early childhood. Eating Maggi was never really a tradition in the family, unless you had fever and did not want the usual rice and lentils and curry. The day after my 5th birthday, I was diagnosed with jaundice. I was thrilled to bits when dad had bought me 40 packs of Maggi from the wholesaler. Those were the days when you bought 10 packs and got one of those cars free, the ones akin to Hotwheels that you’d push backwards and watch it zoom with speed. I still have those cars back at home.
Maggi costed four rupees back then. When I left India, I think it was somewhere close to rupees 12. Over the last few decades, prices jumped multiple times, new flavors were introduced (we had only Chicken and Masala back then), and so were multiple packs of twos, fours, and sixes. The taste and the quantity went down a bit too, but who cares? It is Maggi after all. One look at the yellow packet with the pic of the yummy noodles, and fever be darned. Whoever had this concept of instant noodles, it defied the concept that tasty food was time consuming and difficult to make. Boil some water, throw some vegetables, throw the noodles, put 90% of the taste maker (you keep the 10% to later dip your fingers into and lick from), boil it, and here it goes. With time, I devised newer concepts to make it yummier. I realized that adding a few drops of oil to the water prevents the noodles from sticking. Throw in some vegetables, salt, and pepper to prevent drowning in guilt. Add some extra water if you have a sore throat and want some extra soup. Put a little garam masala powder for an added flavor. I am sure there are people like me who never cease to experiment with Maggi.
At school, mom always packed me proper food for lunch. Roti. Parathe. Curry. Vegetable fried rice. Yet I envied those friends whose moms packed them Maggi, which by then would have gone cold and gooey. I would look greedily at those friends whose moms had no time to cook proper food, and just boiled a pack of instant noodles for them.
Maggi is to instant noodles what Cadburys is to chocolates. There have been competitors, other brands, better deals. Top Ramen, cup noodles. Yet nothing has ever tasted quite like Maggi. Occasional Maggi dinners were like treats for me and my sister. And while I finished off my meal within minutes, I would constantly eye my sister's dinner and tell her, “I think you are full. I think you are done”. She used to be a slow eater, and after an hour when she could eat no more, I would still hungrily finish off leftovers from her plate, all licked clean and dry. Since Maggi dinners were only occasional, I dreamt of earning a lot someday and buying all the packets of Maggi that I could afford, eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The craziness left me, but the effect remained to such an extent that every time I visit the Indian stores here (which is quite far and I need a ride to get there), I sniff and hoard on Maggi. No tomato, I love only the chicken and the masala flavors. Have fever? Boil a maggi. Have exams the next day and no time to cook? Boil a maggi. Craving for some Chinese food but you neither have the usual noodles nor meat? Put lots of vinegar and soy sauce and make a psedu-Chinese dinner with Maggi. Not feeling like eating rice or roti? Eat a maggi. Such is the extent to which Maggi is used in my kitchen.
The water has boiled and my dinner is ready. Fever is not that bad a thing after all, provided you get to have Maggi.