Gluten Free in India Part VII: A Look Back on My Experience

Waiting barefoot to enter the Lotus Temple

Waiting barefoot to enter the Lotus Temple

Looking back at my stay in Gurgaon, I am proud of myself when it comes to the variety of new foods that I tried.  I remember five years ago when I went to school in Singapore I would hardly touch curry – look at me now!  I am so appreciative of Negi Chef and his staff for keeping me safe and never once getting me gluten’d.  I’m glad I asked him countless times to surprise me with my meals so that I branched out and tried so many new delicious dishes and I am proud that I avoided the Western food on the menu.  Sure some people might say that I wasn’t adventurous since I barely ate outside of the hotel.  But given the situation I was in as a solo female working during the night in India and that due to safety reasons I couldn’t leave the hotel unless if I was accompanied by colleagues, I’d say I did well.  I’m just glad I got to try so many new amazing foods!

“Delhi Belly”

Prior to embarking on my assignment, I heard many dreaded Delhi Belly stories from friends and colleagues who had gone to work in India before.  It is almost a given you will get Delhi Belly at some point during a stay in India.  Thankfully, it was very minimal for me and that’s because I ate at the hotel so often.  Imodium is your friend.  It’s funny though that the foods to avoid with the runs are: milk products, spicy foods and fruit, well that puts you in a bit of a problem when you are in India!!

Presentation

In North America we are obsessed about how our food looks.  How you present your food is important when you eat at a restaurant.  Plus, how many food blogs and instagram accounts are solely focused about what one’s food looks like.  Like I said, obsessed.  However, while in India I got used to the fact that Indian food is not about looks or presentation, honestly a lot of it looks very unappetizing.  Thank goodness it tastes so good!

Taking Water for Granted!

At home we have safe, clean drinkable water available at all times.  Cold, fresh, crisp water directly from the tap.  But here in Gurgaon, like many places in the world,  people don’t have that luxury.  While staying in Guragon, I brushed my teeth with bottled water and tightly closed my mouth while showering.

The hotel provides free unlimited bottles of Acqafina.  However, after my first sips of the bottle I didn’t feel great and the water didn’t taste right.  So I quickly started buying 1L bottles of mineral water under the brand ‘Himalayan’ each day to drink.  At the beginning, it was so nice to be able to drink fresh water again.  However, a few weeks into my stay, even the smallest sips from all of the bottles I bought made my stomach turn.  I can only guess that they got a bad batch of water bottles.  It’s scary when you are so thirsty but have nothing safe to drink.  So I had to switch to Perrier for a few days even though I don’t like carbonated water – I honestly brushed my teeth with Perrier a few times (fizzy!).  Thankfully, the staff was able to find me a different batch of the water in smaller bottles so once again I was able to drink water.

It is crazy that even every type of juice I tried there made me feel sick.  Even the Tropicana juice box I found in my mini bar that I got excited about made me sick.  Everyone needs to remember that even though it’s a name brand you know and trust back home, the products here in India are made in India, so when water is an ingredient it could make your stomach feel sick.  So essentially all I drank during my stay were bottled water and lassi, a traditional yoghurt-based drink.

I am grateful to have my own kitchen again at home and for being able to drink cold, clean tap water whenever I want!  I had such an incredible experience in India and I am so grateful for the opportunity.  Now that I have new favourite Indian dishes, I sure hope I can find some of them in Little India back in Toronto.

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