Thursday, 12 November 2015

Chocolate Chitter Chatter

I am being bombarded from all sides. It feels like there's no escape. If I open the newspaper from India, I almost drown in my own drool when I see those full page advertisements. Even when my husband turns on the television to watch the news from back home, there is no respite. The bottom corner of the screen is monopolized by the advertisement, teasing, tempting, tantalizing poor me! Honestly, the makers of these adverts need to be prosecuted and the photographers of these delicacies, that make you want to bite straight into the newspaper itself, should be locked up without even a trial! Diwali, the most important festival in India is here and India's leading brand is making a no holds barred attempt to woo the Indian consumer away from traditional, festive Indian sweets to brown, melt in your mouth bars of, what else, CHOCOLATE, of course!
Not that I need any wooing. I am a die hard fan of chocolate anyway. Give me a plain milk chocolate bar, fine make it a hazelnut bar, over any other sweet any day. I was chocolate deprived in my childhood and so now I lay the whole and sole blame for my chocolate cravings squarely on my mother! She had this weird idea that chocolate spoils teeth...( Honestly, where did she get this idea from? Maybe from Dr. Benjamin Spock, America's celebrity paediatrician-author?) I mean, what are dentists for then? She allowed my sister and me just one measly bar of chocolate each, on the first of every month. And then, nothing, not one tiny cube even, for the rest of the month! So you can imagine how much we looked forward to visitors who gifted chocolate, but sadly they were few and far in between... Most people stuck to giving us healthy, edible gifts! Call it a coincidence, but it is a fact that neither my sister nor me ever needed dental treatment throughout our childhood. So along with my own feelings of deprivation, our dentist must have felt severely deprived too!
On a more sobering note, we really were privileged to have even that one bar of chocolate. The Indian Army assigns one soldier as a helper to each officer. The helpers make sure the uniform is in ship shape, clean and polish those army boots and run errands to make the officer's (and his family's) life easier. Usually my sister and I went to buy our own chocolates but in a particular month we were busy studying for our exams and so my mother sent my father's helper to the shopping centre with money and instructions to buy two chocolate bars. Even as we waited in anticipation and could barely focus on our studies, he came back within ten minutes, empty handed! When asked by my mother why he hadn't bought them, his answer was 'Madam, each cost ten rupees,(less than one sixth of an American dollar today), they were too expensive, so I did not buy them.' We were humbled and speechless at the same time and I don't think I complained too vociferously about getting just one a month since that day.
When I got married, my husband was working for the Schwepps part of Cadbury's- Schwepps in Russia. So the Cadbury's distribution office was just one floor below his, plus he got an employee's discount whenever he bought anything. Even before I landed in Russia for the first time, he had bought every single variety they had on offer and had stocked up our fridge, turning it into a chocolate haven! Not hard to believe that I felt as if I had landed straight into chocolate heaven! And my age and metabolism in those days ensured I could pig out on the chocolates to my heart's content and never gain a kilo or bloat an extra inch. In those days, a newly liberalised India had only a couple of chocolate brands and you could count the variants on the fingers of one hand. So this sudden exposure to different varieties of chocolate, trying out world renowned brands and the freedom of starting my day with chocolate gave me a high like no other! While it did go to my head, I'm so glad it didn't go to my waist then!
Since I was brought up on the Indian Cadbury's chocolate with an occasional lesser known Amul chocolate thrown in, it remains my favourite brand to date. Nestle, with its mooing Swiss cow, launched its chocolates in India as late as when I was in high school! So, unlike my children, I don't feel naturally bonded to Nestle, the way I feel completely connected to Cadbury's. I adore people who gift us chocolates when we are in India for the holidays and we often joke that Cadbury's India sees a sudden dip in sales after we come back to Kenya because either we are buying chocolates for ourselves (we have a fantastic variety to choose from now) or someone is buying them for us! Our friendly neighbourhood grocer does see a drop in his earnings when we leave and has been known to actually say so...
The reason why I feel persecuted when I see these advertisements nowadays or when I go to the supermarket for grocery shopping and those chocolates seem to greet me around just every corner is that today, a bar of chocolate, when I have it, unlike the days of yore, goes straight to my ever hungry fat cells. Hard to believe? Listen to this story!
Last month my husband had gone on a business trip to Dar Es Salam, Tanzania. Our dear neighbours, way back from when we lived there, invited him for dinner and my friend sent a TIN of chocolates for me. Well, maybe she sent them for my kids, but I always assume all chocolates are mine alone. My daughter, who recently certified herself as a chocolate addict in her psychology class, would strongly disagree with my assumptions! Anyway I ate most of the chocolates from that tin, leaving only the ones filled with gooey orange, strawberry, raspberry syrup and the coconut ones which I cannot abide at all, for the others in the house. Then I messaged my friend to thank her for this lovely gift and confidently predicted that I would have gained half a kilo by the next day. Sure enough, the scales did show an increase of exactly 500 grams the next morning...
So now, sadly, I am back to the pattern that I was brought up with, much to my mother's delight! One and only one bar of chocolate when I go grocery shopping at the beginning of the month. And no going grocery shopping for things you don't really need that urgently, just so you can buy chocolate.It's not permitted! If people choose to gift me (us) chocolate in between, it doesn't count! Though my weighing scales will keep an accurate tally of it of course...

                                                          This magnet is on my fridge!

                                             If this was real, only those crumbs would be left!


  1. Beware of Anupama! Guard your chocolates!

  2. A delicious account of that small , square, brown piece of lingering heavenly taste that is called chocolate. Have written a piece for Hitavada. You have given me ideas of raiding the grocer's shop next door.

    1. Please share your piece M mami! Yes eat some for me too! Thanks for reading!

    2. Please share your piece M mami! Yes eat some for me too! Thanks for reading!


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