Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life


Posted by Chris on October 28, 2007

The complementary post to food. Tea and water are ubiquitous. Tea is sold at little stands all over the place, but I’ve never bought. I don’t actually know how much it costs, I’m sure 5 rupees or less. The tea tastes more like coffee to me, it comes with milk and sugar already in it and is light brown in color. It’s made with Indian leaves so that also gives it a different taste than what I’m used to in America. In other words, I kind of like it. (if ya didn’t know, I’m like the only southerner who dislikes tea, even sweet tea).

I don’t ever buy because w/o doing so, I get tea an average of twice a day. Always at breakfast here and occasionally will get again at IITD. Then, when I visit NGOs, there is almost always tea—sometimes more than once. One day, I had 5 cups of tea, between IITD and 2 NGOs.

The tea is sometimes served with biscuits, small cookies. I bought a packet myself last night, biscuits that have choc crème on the inside and little sugar granules on outside—8 crackers for 12 rupees—nice.

That brings me to a major thing to understand about food and money: there is a significant cost difference between packaged and unpackaged items here, or, a slightly different nuance, between something bought in an indoor store or restaurant and something purchased on the street. A 600 ml soda, which I think is slightly less than 20 oz, is 20 rupees—50 cents; whereas most foods are less than half the price of comparable US item. The nice thing with the sodas is that you are not paying a premium to get it cold—in the US we pay the same for a cold 20 oz as for a warm 2 liter. Here, the shop just keeps some in its small refridgerator. 2 liters therefore cost about the same here. The branded items are often actually about the same price. Like KFC is about the most expensive food I’ve seen in all of kolkata.

So anyway, beverages: because the packaged ones cost more, most folks stick to water. I buy a “cold drink” (read: soda) maybe twice a week. Otherwise, I always carry around a bottle of water from IITD’s filtered water system. I have heard that you can find juice, and I’ve had some kind of juice on a few occasions and see stands that are squeezing lemons and other fruits in the city, but overall juice is not common. Liquid milk is bought in small bags, seriously. People buy powdered milk or don’t drink for the 70 years after they are weaned I guess. I’m considering buying a half gallon of milk in Chicago and seeing if I can take that in giordano’s to drink with my pizza.


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