Of subs, strangers and schweine ....

It hit me when the girl at the counter looked at me like I was a Martian for mentioning roasted and pepper in the same breath. I hate Subway! In fact I really, really HATE Subway!!! The thing is we frequent Subways most often since the other fast foods are too unhealthy and I probably hate Subway just an ounce less than I hate McD's, Burger King, Arby's, Insert-Random-North-American-FF-Chain-Here.

That epiphany happened on the Labour Day weekend (Sept 1st) on our road trip to South Dakota. It started off well enough - just me, BigB, prairie grasslands, endless road, humid weather, blue sky and Natalie Merchant's Motherland. We had bought Stephen King's The Cell expressly for the trip, but the evils of modern technology as a topic is just sooo old (apparently some zombie-fication or somethin is spread through the cellular network), the introduction was long and boring and by mutual agreement we stopped listening. There even was a nice old man whose slipstream I drove in for the better part of a 200 miles until I got bored of sticking to the EXACT posted speed limit.

So, anyways, the point is that all was well in our little world until those hunger pangs started panging away and myriad fast food signs later we spotted the Subway logo. And after that it was as much as I could do not to gag while eating my steak sandwich. Even B, who has survived on steamed veggies for months at a time, agreed that he was just a little bit sick of fast food when travelling.

Which brings me to the question - people I need help!!! I really need tips for packing food when on vacation or a road trip. My fav foodie writer on the net, did this helpful post a couple days ago about food to pack while travelling. As I ran my eye over the gamut of suggestions from nuts, granola to oatmeal, I felt the tears build up. Apparently, the days of our pulling over to a little roadside restaurant and eating a tasty South Indian thali are over. Excuse me while I have a little cry in the corner ....

Anyhow, the rest of the trip was a lot of fun as long as we made conscious decisions about where to eat. We covered the Badlands and Black Hills parks and while we didnt do too much hiking this time around we were busy making a note of all the trails and quaint hidden campsites for a later trip. Of course, my enthusiasm for this has waned A LOT since I spotted the 'Beware of rattlesnakes' sign at most of the campsites :( And we spotted the North American bison, a dopier looking animal I have yet to see.

But the most interesting thing was the people we met. The first was a waiter at a restaurant in a completely out of the way lodge in the park, a desi from Mumbai, studying to be a doctor in -wait for it - Russia, moonlighting here to pick up some extra cash! Plus, he knew about 5 languages, Russian being one of them and was learning another. Plus, he had most of his life figured out as in where he was going to work thereafter etc. Damn, we were impressed. I'm still wondering how he landed in SD from Russia but refrained from asking in the spirit of politeness, he was a total stranger.

The other desi's were a couple, the owners of the hotel we lived in and they were 1 of 2 Indian families in a town with a population of 200. While being impressed with their pioneering spirit so to speak, I was also a bit shocked. Keep in mind, this was a small town in a place which is mostly populated 3 months out of 12. We know because we drove through last November and were amazed to drive through a town which had houses, restaurants, gas stations, in short everything, excepting the people. Apparently, it's only populated during summer, the people moving back in during the 3 months of the tourist season and heading out after August. So, basically, there's nothing to do here the whole year around.

The other thing that struck me was that we went to a restaurant across the street one evening and the minute we walked in there was that moment's silence and the eerie feeling you get when every single person in the place turns to give you a once-over. It gave me the shivers, I tell you. Being a minority in a place so small cannot be easy. And most importantly, I feel that being in such a minority it's almost impossible to pass on a sense of your culture to your children. I know I wouldnt be able to live like that. Would you?

The other thing that happened was that Abha gave me an award and said some very nice things about this blog. Thankee much, Abha!!

I know I've been tardy in picking up the award but better late than never I always say. The rules of the award are

This award is for blogs whose content and design are brilliant as well as creative.

The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.

1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!

And here's the list of people whom I want to pass it onto.

Smita - who's eventful life I will never get tired of reading about. Her effortless writing style makes you feel she is talking directly to you and her joie-de-vivre makes hers a blog I turn to for putting that smile on my face early in the mornings.

Brevity, soul and wit, thy name is Avdi. She has a couple of blogs (all delightful) but I point to the books blog because that's the one I enjoy the most.

Bouncing-bubble - who doesnt write much, but when she does her straight-forward and realistic observations from books to music to life reflect the person she is.

It's been a pleasure knowing you ladies!!

And finally, is it just me or does anyone else find this song by Glukoza insanely catchy ?? oh and the music video absolutely hilarious ??


Dont disturb me now, I'm off singing

eins, zwei, drei, shiky-shiky schweine .........


Avionic Spanker said...

I have seen this award in many blogs. What actually stops this award from circulating endlessly. I wonder who first started it.

I remember driving through SD during a Thanksgiving weekend. We didn't stop anywhere though. That 'being in a minority' thing. Makes sense. I may be wrong - though thats a rare thing - some of the central US states are still very conservative, aren't they?

Mama - Mia said...

seems like a great trip!! :D

i hated subway first time i had it when it was introduced in India. Now i dont mind it occasionally! :D

and i have no clue what you can carry to eat!! i only know sandwiches! but then thats fastfood again! :p

how about making some simple parathas! like theplas!! and carry some pickle and you are set! thats what we used to carry on train trip!

my mom would make methi parantha and batatyachi bhaaji and achaar! :D yumm! yumm!

as for minority and staying in an unpopulated area, the latter is defi not my cuppa tea!! we need people to feel happy!! :D

great post!! and a totally well deserved award and passed on too!



Smita said...

I too hate Subway!!! I mean it is all raw veggies...can't stand them....

I was reading this book called "The Immigrant" and a guy there has shifted to Halifax in Canada and he made exactly the same observation of houses & all amenities around but sans people...

Being a minority actually makes a difference...though I haven't faced it much but I have seen it happening to others...I mean the example might look out of context but during my Grad days my insit had come up with MBA degree as well. The girls who got admitted used to get so many stares and for no reason besides the fact that they weren't old in the insti and also because they had more freedom then others....

Last but not the least Thanks for the award and the lovely words :)

Bouncing-Bubble said...

ooooh! I need someone to wake me up to write! donno if I deserve it, but thanku so much!

as for packing food for trips-trust me, I've tried very many options.. I might sound like an old n haggard lady, but idlis are the BEST for trips.. just spread some chilli powder (the one u prep with urid dhal and chillis)) n semsame oil on all idlis and pack them.. they are friendly for the stomach as well.. my 2nd option would be sandwiches...

as for subway, I like them... u can guess why.. with limited veg options, they look divine at times :D.. and I love their oatmeal and raisin cookies SO much.:D

samir said...

Sounds like a great trip.
I do not mind Subway, especially when compared with other FF joints. But give me an NY deli anyday, or some thin crust pizza, or of course a Mumbai style Udipi, or sometimes a hole in the wall diner or mexican joint. I agree on the paucity of good cheap eats in this country, not that I think too highly of most of the expensive eats either. I find that following a great recipe from food network with a nice wine is better than almost anything except the really high priced Manhattan restaurants. In fact, the decline in quality from Manhattan to even across the river in NJ is appreciable; not too mention going further inland.
Anyway I sympathize with your plight (I find myself in a similar situation), and I wish I had any better idea than packing your own sandwiches/tacos/indian stuff etc. etc. etc.
Now if this was Europe, you could always take a nice bottle of wine along and that would appreciably improve things (I could spend days on wine, cheese, a fresh baguette, some tomatoes, lettuce, ripe pears & apples, and some cold cuts such as turkey or ham); but here most likely you would get arrested for DUI.
I will stop my rant for now, and agree with the rest of your post; pioneering desis, eerie minority feelings, and the excellence of Abha's & Smita's & Avdi's writings.

avdi said...

Girl, Thanks a million. But how do i pick up the award? do i click on it or something?

couchpapaya said...

spanker - i think it'll only stop circulating in 2009 :P yes, the central as well as parts of the rest of the country, nothings ever absolute is it !! as for ur absolute certainty, that's such a rare thing to find .. good for u!

abha - god, abha i'd kill for theplas, with achar and bhaji. that used to be our staple for every train trip too. but, me trying to cook before a trip, ghastly thought!! it's as much as i can do to get packed in time!! as for sandwiches, i'm so bored with my usual fare, all i can think of is pudina/cucumber/potato sandwiches. i desperately need some new ideas!! i thanks for the suggestions tho! and yes, i need people too, mostly why i'm very happy where i am now :D

couchpapaya said...

smita - ur example is quite valid ... and most of us have been in one situation or the other. which is why i find it quite admirable when someone actually decides to fight against these even if it's in their own small way !!!

bubbles - i do hope u write more often :) and thanks a bunch for the idlies suggestion, that's a great idea i wonder why i never thought of it before !!! tho u know the fast food in uk & europe and the one's here are vastly different, in terms of food quality etc. there even the mcd's are very eatable there while here it is absolute filth! and they have veggie burgers which are totally unheard of over here. have u tried the bean burger at burger king ? yummmm!!! :D

couchpapaya said...

samir - looks like u have enough content for your own post :D i love the hole in the wall places too, just tonight we ate at a teeny little turkish place, with barely 5 tables but the most delicious spiced meat .... am still laughing over the DUI thing ... i can imagine a v. confused european over here! packing food is great when u have the time, somedays we barely get back home on a fri night before we have to be packed and leave. at times like this i wish there was something that i could depend on :(

ava - ur welcome! just right click on the image and u shld see an option saying save image as... or download image... or something like that.

Amit said...


Anything else other than your book reviews is most welcome..Not that I don't enjoy reading them, but I hardly relate to them..Because, after lot of efforts on my part, the fact remains I am a pathetic reader..or rather 'finisher' of books...So, in that way, you and I are poles apart..

Here, your account was interesting..And hey! I am sure your blog deserves all that tagging of being a terrific terrific one simply because the pro touch they have..


couchpapaya said...

amit - that's quite alright, i'm glad to see u whenever u drop in !

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