Is Maggi Soul Maximizing?

I received two thought-provoking responses to yesterday’s essay. One requires a lot of thought in order to respond adequately, and I’ll get to it later this week. The other was fun to think about, and is the title of today’s essay.

There is hardly an Indian who doesn’t love Maggi.1

Why Indians love Maggi is another story altogether. It is, as Krish Ashok points out, a function of primarily two things. First, Maggi creates a flavor bomb in the sachet of spices that it sells along with each packet of Maggi. Second, taste is apparently all more about memory than anything else.2

And when the conditions are just right, a bowl of steaming Maggi is just the thing to have. Why, I have an entire blog post on the subject. But the question is this: when I make myself a bowl of Maggi, am I maximizing soul, or am I minimizing time, cost and effort?

Well, under ideal conditions, both! That is, if I make a bowl of Maggi because I want to have a bowl of Maggi, not only am I maximizing soul, but it is dirt cheap, easy to make and requires minimal effort.

But if I make a bowl of Maggi not because I want to eat it, but because I want something that is either dirt cheap, or easy to make, or requires minimum effort – well, that would not be soul maximization. There’s nothing wrong with cheap, quick and minimal effort – in fact, it is a wonderful thing. Efficiency is a good word.

It is efficiency for its own sake that I have a problem with.

In fact, I would argue that this is a pretty good way of thinking about what I was trying to get at yesterday.

Let me put it another way. Consider these two statements:
1. This is all I have to give. Under these circumstances, which dream is most attainable?
2. This is my dream. Given my circumstances, what do I need to do to attain it?

If I eat Maggi because I am craving it, and screw worries about nutrition, then we are very much in Point Number Two territory. But if on the other hand, if I have come back home, bone-tired, in a week in which I had resolved to eat home cooked, nutritious food… and then I make Maggi because – well, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? – that is Point Number One territory.

So is Maggi soul maximizing or not?

Yes, it can be. But we would do well to be truthful to ourselves about the reason we’re making it.3

  1. That’s not factually accurate, of course. We are a country of about 1.4 billion. Of course there will be folks who don’t like Maggi. But you know what I mean. Plus, for those of you who do not like Maggi, feel free to substitute your cheap guilty pleasure here. And if you don’t have one, consider mentoring me.[]
  2. If you have not already, please read Masala Lab, by Krish Ashok[]
  3. I’m really bad at this, just so we’re clear[]