It was my maiden flight, and first out of India, too. Boarding an aircraft for the first time at 58 is more trepidation than fun. I was praying silently as the jet took off. All the news I had heard about air-crash tragedies rang in my ears, and the prayers became faster.
We were US bound but The Netherlands was the first foreign shore I’d put my foot on, as we had a four-hour stopover at Schiphol, Amsterdam, which was all decked up for Christmas. The Christmas trees, hanging bulbs, lights; and decorated thrones greeted us. Tall young women in their cuissardes (knee-length shoes) and wide-brimmed hats seemed to be walking straight out of Jane Austen’s novels.
As we looked around for some snack, we found we had a tough task at hand. All the eateries served European and continental food, which we had never seen or heard of. What to eat? We couldn’t risk experimenting. By luck, we spotted a McDonald’s outlet there.
We placed our order, and though the rates on the list were in Euros, we could also pay in dollars. The problem came when I asked for a sachet of sauce. I’m like Kangana Ranaut in the movie “Queen”, who tends to spoil every dish by putting a lot of sauce over it. It was a shock to find out that the sachet was available only on payment. “Hain !” I felt like telling the man at the counter: “Come to India, and see how magnanimous we are to give you as many sachets of sauce as you want, absolutely free of cost.”
I had never imagined that my gluttony would lead me to this. Anyway, I checked out its price in Euro, converted it into dollar and made the payment. A bit shaken, I couldn’t stop myself from making a mental conversion of the payment into rupees. My fancy for the sauce had cost me 46. The sauce lost its tang and the burger its taste—a very disappointing start to my trip.
We stayed in the US for a month, visited many places, ate different types of exotic food, and did a lot of shopping; but that one sachet never left my thoughts. Fortysix rupees!” Even now, it keeps popping its head from the deep caves of the mind now and then. Each home delivery from different fast-food joints leaves a collection of sachets at my place. I revel at my treasure and feel very rich.