Fasting is not my forte. Unlike Anna Hazare who can go without food for days, my longest fast lasts around nine hours —the time between dinner and my cup of morning tea. But these days I am seriously contemplating of following the Anna Way, for a selfish cause.
No, I am not planning to lose weight. Fasting for me seems to be the only safe option available these days in Kathmandu to protect my intestines, liver, kidneys and other innards. The decision is based purely on reports appearing in newspapers and television channels.
Few days back food inspectors carried out raids at several stores selling ‘gundpak’, a popular savoury, and found that the raw materials used were either rotten or of inferior quality. Similar operations at sweetmeat shops revealed contaminated ghee used to make ‘mithais’.
Thank god I’ve never tasted ‘gundpak’ or am fond of ‘mithais’, I thought. But my relief was short-lived as enthusiastic food department officials conducted more raids in the following days to protect our tummies ahead of the Dashain and Tihar festivities.
The revelations are enough to make anyone worried. Sub-standard cooking oil mixed with imported stuff, fake spices in packets of reputed companies, houseflies in cakes and pastries and food products that have outlived their expiry dates being sold in shops.
If you find these reports hard to swallow, please drink some water.
But be careful as studies have found most brands of mineral water sold in Kathmandu to be unsafe. Your evening glass of imported scotch could also be laced with country liquor, as other raids have revealed.
God forbid if you happen to fall sick after eating or drinking something. Do check that the medicines you are buying are not fake or outdated. Lovers of home-cooked food should also be cautious as the LPG cylinders you are using could be unsafe and burst.
Not surprising that I am thinking of going on a long fast. But that was not my view when I came to Kathmandu in 2009 and thought I had landed in a Foodie Paradise because of the amazing variety of delicacies the country has on offer to tickle the taste buds.
Recent events have made me wonder if I have entered Hell’s Kitchen. Here’s hoping that the paradise is regained soon. Cheers!