Google fb32x32 twitter linkedin feed-icon-32x32

Week In The Life Of A Vegetarian

Week In The Life Of A Vegetarian

November 25, 2010

A frustrating, meat free, seven days in Singapore.

Day 1: Singapore - A prayer answered

Dear Diary,

Today has been a wonderful but tiring day for me. I will be flying abroad for the first time tomorrow. And that too, to Singapore. My first onsite trip.

My bags are all packed with new freshly pressed clothes - Van Heusen, Levis and Jockey. They are all jostling for space in there. Amma has thoughtfully packed a huge jar of mango pickle in one of Appa's old lungis (Poor Appa’s lungis have been massacred for pickle swaddling since my college days).

I tried to explain to Amma about the Customs being strict or the danger of the oil seeping out on my new clothes.

"It’s just mangos and chilli powder", she said. So I just gave up.

Day 2: Bread - Resdicovered

Dear Diary,

I am not quite sure what to make of my first flight experience. It wasn't quite the delight I expected.

The vegetarian choice was limited bordering on nil and the nuts came in nut-sized packets. But I am still in good spirits.

After all, my dream of crossing the seven seas is happening after years of slogging at that shitty Chennai office. And that too to a metropolitan Asian city. What luck! I can enjoy the Asian hospitality and cuisine, and at the same time live in perpetual air-conditioning.

I had been secretly dreading ending up in Europe or America and puking over steak or Fish and chips smells for the rest of my days. But clearly lady luck has smiled on me. Someone even told me that rice is a Singaporean's staple diet as well.

Today was too tiring. So I just bought a packet of bread and some peanut butter for dinner.

Tomorrow will go hunting for some culinary delights of the city!

Day 3: Macdonalds - Not quite lovin' it

Dear Diary,

I asked at the hotel reception if they knew where I could find an Indian Coffee house. I mean those places are world famous right? Well, apparently not.

I thought about Amma's idlis and sambhar and felt a bit homesick.

There was a MacDonald’s opposite the hotel. Believe it or not, they had teriyaki, tofu and even an octopus burger. But not a simple veggie burger in sight. Finally I settle for the mushroom burger (When did mushroom even get promoted from soup entree to filling???) and a big pack of French fries.

Bought something called butter buns for dinner.

Day 4: Singapore - Hell!!!

Dear Diary,

I swear if I see another bread or bun, I might vomit. Honestly, is it so difficult to chop up a few vegetables and whip up some dish in this country? And why are mushrooms, Bok Choy and tofu parading themselves as main dishes? It’s like the Twilight zone out here...shudder!

I did see a Biriyani stall here and pounced upon the blessed familiar word. But there was only chicken, fish and mutton biriyani. Yeah, let us vegetarians starve to death, I suppose.

It's a slow mutiny against us.

Day 5: Little India - Another prayer answered

Dear Diary,

A friend took me to Little India today. It was full of Indian, vegetarian restaurants. Millions of them. If it hadn't been for the 'paan' spittle on the pavement I would have kneeled and kissed the roads right there and then.

I had 2 dosas and 3 gulab jamuns. I didn’t even bother to convert to rupees and calculate the cost difference before ordering.

My dinner awaits me as I write this. Steaming hot rice with sambhar and beans curry packed in the traditional brown paper and tied with a string too. Yum!

Day 6: Tortillas topped with regret

Dear Diary,

A friend from Los Angeles called today. A vegetarian friend, mind you. He said he's discovered salads and tortillas in the states. So it’s not all steaks and burgers there apparently.

I tried to sound enthusiastic about the food here, but don’t think I was that convincing.

Hoping to go to Little India later on and drown my sorrow in the welcoming hot sambhar and rasam.

Day 7: Psalm 118:22-23: The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone

Dear Diary,

I finally finished unpacking everything today. That’s when I found Amma's pickle jar nestled among my clothes. I had almost forgotten about it. I opened the jar and the heady scent of spicy, rich pickle hit my nostrils. God, I had missed that overdose of spice!

Today’s dinner menu: Bread with mango pickle.

Thank God for relentless mothers who don't care about Airport Customs.


  • rishabh
    06.02.12 03:10 PM
    Well, all i can say is that hong kong and china and even japan are even worse. They dont understand the word 'vegetarian' even those who speak fluent english! Well I lost 6 kgs! Good for me:-)
    01.11.11 12:38 AM
    I was feeling sorry for you, but the minute you said, you are not veggy, I should be given chance to beat you with Mv Alu playing with my emotions like this, how dare you woman, but then on the other hand you may enjoy it. That's not good is it. well written MARIA.
  • Noel
    16.01.11 04:49 AM
    never knew it was so hard to find vegetarian food in Singapore...
  • shahnaz
    04.12.10 07:37 PM
    I am one of those RELENTLESS mothers ,I guess :)
  • Maria
    02.12.10 10:50 AM
    @emilie: Wow I never did think of the reverse ever happening. Yes, things like Mc Alu are so exclusively Indian. BTW, the post is purely ficitional. I myself am a hardcore non-vegetarian..hehehe..

    @Sarath: Good to see you here. The pic is amazing but unfortunately I was not the one who shot it. I can't manage a simple shot withour blurring :D

    Glad you liked the article. Keep visiting!
  • sarath
    01.12.10 10:27 AM
    Maria, excellent writing. I come to this from your gmail status, i am not a big fan of reading blogs except technicals. the image struck my eyes, its wonderful, so i started reading the articles if its you who took this photo, I should appreciate your photography talents - excellent. when i started reading , it was a flow, till the end. its simple and create the feeling in the readers. keep writing. you have the talents!!!
  • emilie
    30.11.10 10:42 PM
    Funny how life experince can be ulta !
    french expat in mumbai, i've become a veg...
    for ex. I was so surprise to find mc alu in mc donald's ! defintion of a burger for me was necesseraly with huge piece of meat....really enjoyed ur diary story ! good luck with food hunting !
  • Maria
    27.11.10 08:45 PM
    Ankur, I can totally understand your situation. I have friends who are still in deperate sitns here when it comes to veggie diets...
  • theReader
    27.11.10 05:51 PM
    Wow, me homesick now!
  • Ankur Banerjee
    Ankur Banerjee
    27.11.10 05:17 PM
    I've been living in Singapore for about four months now, and I've given up on vegetarianism after 16 years. I lived for a year in the UK before this and even _there_ I had plentiful vegetarian food choices. Unless you're willing to put up with a constant menu of South India cuisine, it's simply not possible to be vegetarian in Singapore.

    As a side note, don't trust salads anywhere on this island. They simply do *not* know how to make one.
  • Hayaah
    26.11.10 03:13 AM
    Day 5, strangely had me teary eyed - based on the order in which you wrote the days out! That goes to show some splendid writing, lady - and you're just that, if not more - SPLENDID!

    Always love your style with subtle humour interspersed...


Leave a comment