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Why I am not giving up chicken
February 23, 2006
Chicken and I go a long way.
In college I was desperately trying to woo a girl who was a vegetarian. She told me if I wanted to marry her I would have to give up chicken.
My answer was short and crisp: "I can leave you but not chicken."
Obviously, I did not marry her but she did marry someone who eventually gave up chicken for her.
I just cannot fathom how anyone can foresake chicken?
After the first case of bird flu struck Maharashtra last weekend, I have had many people ask me if I am still eating chicken?
'Yes,' I declare with confidence.
'Are you not worried about bird flu?' they ask in surprise.
I counter their question by asking, 'For what?'
I don't understand why we middle class Indians get so hassled on hearing about such diseases.
I have eaten chicken in some of the most basic and n-fancy restaurants and let me assure you they cook the best chicken in the world. Better -- on any given day -- than the five star hotels of the world.
If I were to look at the hygiene in these very basic restaurants I probably wouldn't take the next bite but I eat it all with relish, without giving a thought to the ambience or bothering too much about the level of cleanliness.
I feel chicken is chicken. If it is well made in proper masala and other ingredients, it is one of the best dishes -- irrespective of where you cook it.
The problem with us is that bird flu is in our mind. We try to give too much importance to it than required.
When I visited America last year, I realised that Americans are a pampered class. In their society hygienic living conditions and cleanliness are extremely important and the fear of falling ill is a big problem for them.
We in India are not like them. Indians are not Americans. We don't fret endlessly about such things. The chalta hai (casual) attitude has always been our way of life, so why are we getting so hyper if some birds have died in Nandurbar district in Maharashtra?
In our country, we have never bothered about such issues before, so why are we worrying so much now? Moreover, I am very sceptical about the official reasons given for the spread of bird flu.
There are reports that migratory birds spread the virus. My question is if migratory birds spread the infection, then it should have first struck the coastal towns in Gujarat where they first land and not in Nandurbar, the district in Maharashtra which borders Gujarat.
Talking of hygiene, take the example of Mumbai city. There are roadside vendors who sell the best tea -- called Cutting Chai in small glasses. Those cups are dirty, not washed properly and sometimes you even find lip marks on the rim of the cup of other people -- but still we go and drink cutting.
The doctors have been saying if chicken and eggs are heated at more than 70 degree centigrade there is no fear of the virus killing you -- so why do we get worried?
So what is the fuss about bird flu?
Why make a fuss? Why talk of giving it up?
And what about eggs? How can I give that up?
I have been eating an egg almost every day since I was a kid. Without eating chicken and eggs, I cannot see myself leading a normal life.
I hope the government does not ban the eating of chicken.