McDonalds in Agra. Bad girl.

I am a bad bad traveller. I’m hanging my head in shame, a hypocrite and a weakling. I couldn’t help it – it’s just under a month into my trip and already I’ve had a McDonald’s. I won’t even eat that reconstituted rubbish at home, let alone in a land of such fabulous cuisine as India.

Yes, yes, berate me all you will. I know travelling should be all about immersing yourself in the local culture: eating the food, attempting the language, gaping at the architecture and talking with the locals. But there are times when you need a few home comforts. I’m getting to the stage where I want hearty British food, plump pillows, a duvet, soft mattress and night in front of the TV.

I’ve been a bit ill, you see, and my appetite has completely vanished. No morsel seems capable of tempting me, whether it’s South Indian (usually I’d never pass on a dosa), North Indian (thali used to do it for me), Chinese (sweet and sour made me salivate), Tibetan (mmmmomos) or anything else on the all-too-common tourist menus. My problem is I just don’t trust food anymore. I find myself eyeing everything suspiciously and the heat doesn’t help either. Who wants to eat when you can barely breathe? But a girl must eat to stay healthy and strong on the road, and it’s in this kind of situation that the golden arches never looked so sweet.

The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted that whilst I say only home comforts will do, I also state that I won’t go near a McDonald’s at home. You Overland Traveller blog followers are a clever lot. Yes, there was another excuse behind it. You see, sometimes, when travelling I get, er, clogged up, so to speak. And for some reason, fast food never fails to clear the, um, passage. I first noticed this with a KFC in Xi’an, China, after five days of no, ahem, movements. And it worked again. Within 30 minutes of shamefacedly eating a Maccy D’s laxative special in Agra’s TDI Mall, ‘things’ were flowing again. From one extreme to the other in the space of a McChicken Sandwich with Cheese Meal!

Bowel problems solved, I find myself without an excuse to eat that (‘scuse the pun) crap again. But, my appetite still hasn’t returned and there’s got to be more nutrition in a Fillet’o’Fish than in the chewy white bread or pasta in bright orange tomato sauce I’ve eaten most mealtimes in the last few days…

Plus, as a result of smashing my anti-fast food principles to salt-coated smithereens, visiting McDonalds and the TDI Mall gave me a glimpse of a side of India I may not have otherwise seen. Amongst the backpackers furtively gulping Chicken McNuggets were plenty of middle-class Indians equally growing their bellies to American proportions before stepping into the sparkling new TDI Mall to indulge in a bit of shopping in United Colours of Benetton, Levi’s and Pepe Jeans, and visiting the mall’s cinema to take in a Bollywood blockbuster. I think I’ll take some time to indulge my middle-class Western arse, in more ways than one, for a bit. Strictly to build up my strength, you understand.

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