Friday, December 19, 2008

Outsourcing / Insourcing? What the IT Bachelors Eat

OK, so when the issue is one of a big company importing hundreds of IT workers from India on short-term visas, and undoubtedly paying them less than what their American college-graduate counterparts would require, I don't know which term to use. But since I am devoting so much of this blogspace to food ethnography, I might as well inform anyone who is interested as to just WHY we see --- in upscale Whole Foods and Trader Joe's as well as the humble Indo-Pak grocery stores and even more humble Job Lot/Salvage stores --- thousands of boxes of MREs made for the Indian Ministry of Defense. Must be for all those vegetarian South Asian college and graduate students who didn't grow up in the States, right? Well, sure. Or perhaps also: let's market authentic tasting (and that they are) Indian veg dishes to Americans who are interested in that sort of thing. Yeah, that too. But really, I suspect that they are mainly for the bachelors. The uncountable number of young Indian graduates who are employed by an uncountable number of companies here in the U.S. What self-respecting Indian housewife or Auntie or whoever other female is going to spend even $1.00 for a few ounces of something they could whip up a whole pot of for the same money? I am told on good authority that there are entire apartment buildings downtown inhabited by FOB bachelors, here just for a while. They show up, sans traditional clothing, at Navaratri celebrations and stick by the walls of the gym, adoring and jealous. I suppose that as long as India and Pakistan do not go to war, the surplus MREs will end up here. Which reminds me of the cornflakes made in Egypt that I found in a beach-town Dollar Store several years ago. Complete with red barn and rooster. Yes, that's right: surplus corn, a New World cereal grain, is being made into cornflakes in Egypt, where the average household income is about $700 per year, and they are being shipped for sale to North America. I'll have to find the box and write a post about it. Bottled sauces and other condiments from anywhere else in the world are one thing; there are unique recipes for limepickle and rooster sauce and whatnot. But those are from the pre-microwave age! This is a whole new era...

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