After spending over six months in India, oh how I miss my local Safeway, Trader Joes and Whole Foods Market!  There is a grocery store across the highway from my apartment complex but just getting there puts my life in danger, and I’m not kidding! Grocery shopping in India is a risky business. There is no crosswalk so I have to dart across 4 lanes of traffic and everyone drives like mad men around here. I’ve almost been hit on several occasions and I know someone in my community who had a guest visiting who was struck trying to cross that road.

The store caters mostly to expats, foreigners and the upper class. It has a decent selection of groceries from all over the world.  I can buy typical American junk food like potato chips, Trix, and Mountain Dew if I so desire. But other parts of the store are just plain scary; mainly the fresh meat and dairy products!

Dairy products

I didn’t buy milk today because the freshest I could find had an April expiration date!  Some went back to February!  I could opt for home delivery, but I see it being delivered by motorcycle in stainless steel containers in the 110 degree heat!  So, I think I’ll pass! The freshest yogurt I could find was also dated April and I’m writing this article in the end of May.

Expired dairy products on the shelves in India
Expired dairy products on the shelves in India

The meat department

The meat department is behind a glass enclosure, probably to keep out the stench. Today it smelled worse than normal, like rotten meat. I walked in the little room, gagged at the odor and walked right back out!  I realized that in the 6 months I’ve been here I have never seen a refrigerated truck! In fact I think most refrigerated goods are just shipped in regular trucks with blocks of ice in the back.

This may explain why I just spent 4 days down with intestinal “issues”. I call it Delhi Belly.  Two of my colleagues also got it this week and none of us ate the same thing. I’ve had it several times since I’ve been here, but this was my worst case yet. The food here is extremely spicy, which can also cause digestive problems. At the grocery store it seems like everything is spicy, from potato chips to soda pop. Yes, you can even buy Masala soda pop!

Typical display of potato chips in India
Typical display of potato chips in India

Pulses

The store does have the biggest display of “pulses” I have ever seen. Pulses are what they call lentils in India. I’ve never even heard of most of them and would have no idea what to cook with them.

Lentils are known as pulses in India
Lentils are known as pulses in India

Deodorant choices

I wanted to buy deodorant/anti antiperspirant today but was shocked to find you could only buy one or the other, not a combination. Plus, they were all aerosol not not roll on. Guess I’ll be stocking up on my next trip home.

Deodorant selection in India
Deodorant selection in India

Don’t take pictures in the store

The most interesting thing that happened today in the store was that I got yelled at by the staff for taking pictures. Of course I still did it anyway because I’m a crazy non confirming American.

Getting your groceries “home”

One of the 20 or so bagging guys at the front was kind enough to help me carry all my groceries back to my apartment.  I followed him closely across the busy road and he walked right out in front of the cars like it was an every day thing. Well, I guess it is around here! I tipped him 100 rupees, which is about $1.50 USD. He headed back into the sweltering heat with a big smile on his face, and I quickly put my cold goods into the fridge. Then I realized that I bought stuff to make enchiladas but I don’t have a damn oven! None of the kitchens here have an oven. Ugh!

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