OPN Hamburger
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Our son brought home huge ‘shawarma’ from Kitchener during the family reunion in Canada, as he was most probably nostalgic about Lebanese “automatic” food.

This eatery franchise in Ibn Battuta Mall food court in Jebel Ali was our fav haunt for the weekend treat, and for ‘iftar’ during Ramadan, as the hummus, kebabs, crispy cheese ‘sambusa’, minced meat open pizzas, were ‘delicieux’.

This North American shawarma, wrapped in grease paper, filled the large dinner plate from Ikea, that our landlady had kindly provided. We cut each Shawarma in half so that we could taste the various chicken, meat, ‘kofta’ ones, each of which was slathered with large dollops of mayonnaise.

I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to get the first bite into it, so I opened the soggy pita bread wrap and dug into the chicken with my fork, ignoring the sorry-looking lettuce and tomato slices, but wolfed down the pickle.

It was scrumptious, but my wife and kids did not think much of it, preferring the original Arab fast food.

Food does not come in ‘normal’ proportions here in Canada: either it is “Whopper”, “Getoutofhere” or “Shorty”. Nobody, really nobody orders two-pound burgers as they are just tiny morsels, or Sliders as they are called, and are really for party decorations as they look neat on a tray.

They do not work even as starters, as they are only a mouthful.

I rant at everything where I am staying and when I was in Bengaluru in India, the food proportions were incredibly tiny or minuscule, and the meal is over just as it arrives at your table in a restaurant.

“My, my, everyone seems to love the food, shall we order some more Momo?” asks the hostess as we look on hungrily.

I was looking forward to my first glass of filter coffee when we arrived in Bengaluru, India. The ‘glass’ incidentally, is stainless, and the coffee is poured from a height of one foot, by the coffee-maker behind the counter, and it comes frothy and smelling heavenly, to the table.

Or, that was how I remembered from my younger days, when enjoying a tomato omelette and ‘filter kapi’ at an Udupi Hotel, at tiffin time.

Fast forward to the future, and the coffee, believe it or not, came in a 90ml plastic disposable cup (I looked up later online on how much the cup could hold) and it lasted me five to six, very small and loud sips, and cost less than Canadian 1 dollar (Rupees 50).

I may have shrunk over the years, due to human depreciation and loss of height, but the shrinking of this coffee glass was absurd.

But despite the Lilliputian food portions in India, the people suffer from obesity, because of the proliferation of the North American fast-food eateries, and Indian children, besides suffering from malnutrition, also strangely, suffer from obesity.

That is because fast food is cheap and tasty, as it is full of sugar and salt (the two ingredients that nutritionists warn against). When you top up the humungous soda pop glass between bites on the hamburger, pizza or baked chicken, the calories ramp up to an alarming level.

Indians were really supportive and went crazy and it was oversubscribed a zillion times over when an American fast-food chain advertised an IPO (Initial Public Offering) to raise funds and open more eateries in India.

Wherever America has opened fast food outlets, the country quickly becomes overweight and diabetic.

The bigger threat globally is not coronavirus, but the pandemic called diabetes that is running wild across nations, and it is not even contagious.

The only way to halt this disease is to change our lifestyle, to a healthy one by being more active and to give up the ‘tasty’ food that kills and leaves your body a wreck.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi