The long borne wish was going to be fulfilled today (early) morning. Finally, after years of longing and laziness, I was to visit that one tea stall which had been everyone’s recommendation. The ‘Let-us-not-name-it’ Tea Stall spoiled it for me(as it would for any other chai-lover as well)
What you see here is Disappointment objectified.
What the tea-sellers there were were Disdain personified.
After battling the restless crowd, 20-30 minutes of never-ending wait, rounds of calling out “Bhaiya, Bhaiya…(with my voice rising in a crescendo)”, sweating profusely, what I get is this…
This might look like any other ‘chai’ but if only there was some way to convey its taste!
First taste is certainly the last taste!
And the ‘band makkhan’ and ‘samosa’…
Let me put it this way- The sole motivation to finish it up was that we paid 60 rupees for them!!!
When something reaches its peak of popularity, the quality is bound to go down. There is no other way, no evasion.
To avoid degradation, the solution is to be the best, but, in isolation.
Found a commendable tea stall? Do not tell it to everyone! ‘SAVE’ IT FROM BEING POPULAR AND HENCE RUINED. As Kahlil Gibran puts it-
“Travel and tell no one, live a true love story and tell no one, live happily and tell no one, people ruin beautiful things.”
Today morning, as I was taking a solitary walk around the campus and was admiring its tranquillity, a cuckoo’s melodious chirp happened to catch my attention. Immediately looking up, I tried to find out which tree was the bird sitting on.
A young lady, standing nearby, smiled at me helplessly. Nevertheless, I continued with my failed attempts to spot the bird. The lady’s smile widened. Now I understood.
“So, it is her who is making the cuckoo sound!” – I rightly concluded.
I let out a little laugh. We exchanged smiles; then resumed our walking on our respective paths.
Minutes later, we ran into each other again. A few seconds after, a cuckoo cooed again. The lady looked at the trees above to find the cuckoo out. She could not.
She looked at me. Gazed at me for a fraction of second and exclaimed- “It is you!!!”
Scene- You happen to guffaw in your class(alone or with your friend). All eyes turn to you.
Whatever be the reason of your laugh, the poor professor will attribute the reason to herself. This will result in the bulging out of her eyes and a deathly stare (comparable with the expression your mother would give when you refuse to eat ‘karela’), followed by the age-old clichéd remark- “ What is so funny? Care to share it with the entire class? Come, tell; we all will have a jolly time…” (It is time that these professors look for some creativity and novelty.)
Next up, you have to come up with an immediate excuse for the teacher to let go off you and to order you to sit(though reluctantly). Now you can go on to sit and resume your chuckling, giggling and tittering, though as silently as possible this time.
Heavens forbid that you have to sit right under the nose of the professor in the class while a funny memory or observation hits you. You have to grapple with a register or a book to hide your reddened face and teared up eyes. You can, also, simply ‘hang your face in laughter’. Also, you have to devise a technique to curb the sound of your giggle.
Your friends and classmates would envy you seeing you happy in an otherwise sleep-inducing lecture.
You yourself would be happy in an otherwise sleep-inducing lecture.
You can apologise before the professor starts off with – “What is so funny…’cliché cliché’…” and escape an upbraiding and continue relishing over your happy moments.
A yawn induces yawn(in a boring lecture). Likewise, laughter induces laughter. It is contagious. Thereby, you can make the ambience of the class a little lighter.
You can escape death( by not choking yourself by curbing your laughter)
Since, clearly, the given pros outnumber the cons- LAUGH OUT LOUD LIKE NO ONE IS HEARING.
Footnote 1- The best laugh is the laugh in which is there is no sound but ‘only’ gasping of air, red face, welled-up eyes and bodily tremors. Only!
You are laughing and not laughing at the same time!
Footnote 2- Remember to “ laugh like parrots at a bag-piper” (Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice)
Our alarms start theirt crackle since 7:00 am. After all the snoozing and further dozing, 9:30 am it is when we actually rise up. We have just half an hour for us to manage to get ourselves our breakfast; breakfast for which we wait since the last Sunday- Chhole Bhature…
9:50 am, we reach our ‘dinning hall’. It is both a relief and a mild concern to see other people clamouring for food as well. Relief- the realization that we are not the sole late risers. Concern – we will have to tarry a little before our turn for ‘bhatura’ finally comes.
To while away the time, I head to the tea container. As I pick up the steel cup and pour some tea in it, I think my usual thought- Can it be called tea at all? I prefer to call it ‘sugary water’; for it is nothing but sugar and water! I take two sips and leave the rest and then curse myself for having expected the tea to be better this time. Then too, hope is a never dying thing! I know, my stupid self will come back to this tea container again hoping that some day(one fine day…) these cooks will have pity on us and prepare tea that can actually be called tea.
We get our ‘bhaturas’ shortly later. Ghosh takes two; Sneha also two; I take three. We proceed get our share of ‘chhola’.
As I hold the ladle and churn the ‘Chhola’, I exclaim- ” Chhole mein chhola kahan hai?!”
Ghosh- “Aur kitna patla patla bhi hai!”
Sneha- “Ab dus baje aoge tumlog to aur kya milega?!”
Sneha is right. However, I wonder if logic is required at all while complaining! We just smile.
We take our plates to the table and eat. Shortly we hear that there is no more ‘chhola’ left for the rest of the people; not even the diluted ‘chhola’. I am happy that though late, we are not ‘thaaaat’ late.
Huh! The oil in the ‘bhaturas’ is enough to induce deeeeep slumber in me again.
A loooong lazy day awaits…
(How long and lazy?
I started writing this post around 10:45 am and see the time I am posting it!
Oh, you have half an hour for the next lecture. Come with us.”
“Lecture completed? So, come join us…”
“Waiting for someone? Wait here.”
“You topped the test? Treat, treat!”
“Whose turn is it today for…?”
“Where are we going?”
The place in subject is one.
From at a distance it might look like an ordinary shack, but lo and behold; advance nearer, grab a tea- 5 rupees for the normal one, or the ‘special’ one costing just a rupee more- sit cosily on the stony seat and look around soaking in the ambience.
The person behind this all, the gratified owner of the stall, sells not just tea(lemon tea, samosa, gulab jamun, launglatta…) but a catalyst for the stimulation of ideas.
Gather some friends, grab a glass, or the ‘kulhadd‘, of tea and let your mind go for a swirl. Talks ranging from how the professor from the previous lecture dressed up today to the deepest deliberations on the Bacon’s essays, everything is ‘served’ here.
You can boast your generosity, or show some pity, by paying up for your friends’ tea as well(of course after a lot of debate as to who would end up paying for it- something which is hardly thought of beforehand).
Or with supreme efficacy, evade from paying up for the tea this one time by reminding them how you once paid in the past or by promising to do so in the near future.
Moreover, even if you have no one to chat to/discuss with/ share your tea with, you can indulge in even engaging an activity- EAVESDROPPING!
Again, grab a tea, sit cosily on the stony seat and look around and overhear all the conversations within your earshot.
You will, as per my recollection and experience, hear talks ranging from how Rahul should have batted the other day to the nuances of running the government; from Socrates to Shankaracharya ; from Marx to Manto; from Premchand to Paulo Coehlo; from Basketball to Badminton; from concerns over almost flunking a test to strategies for topping the exams…
If Heavens be more magnanimous, you might even spot a professor or two or even more approaching towards the stall. You can pounce upon the opportunity to initiate a discourse with them on any of the intellectual topics(or even the trending ones like Padmaavat); and, as a bonus, might(rather, definitely) save your money, as the big-hearted professors would promptly offer to pay for it.
If none of these- no friends to fret over the payment, eavesdropping on random conversations, fortunate guest appearances by professors- you can just sit back, with the tea in hand, and marvel at how some water, milk, tea leaves, sugar, and ginger mixed in a divine proportion create the most ethereal potion of all time…
Our customary vegetable vendor pulls up right in front of our house…
My mother, already awaiting him, names out the vegetables and their desired measure to be popped into the basket one after the other…
As Mumma picks up a vegetable, scrutinises it heavily, upbraids the vendor if it is found unhealthy, rotten, undernourished or whatever, proceeds on until her basket brims with shiny, well-shaped, well-grown vegetables,
my frivolous mind wanders over the lush green herbs, corriander and mint, ( and a few more) laid down in neatly tied-up bundles, each costing 5 rupees.
The lustre and density of their leaves gave me a sense of richness and abundance of our natural vegetation and, in my mind, I reiterate the immortal lines by Kavi Sumitranandan Pant-
ओह, समय पर उनमें कितनी फलियाँ फूटी!
कितनी सारी फलियाँ, कितनी प्यारी फलियाँ,-
यह धरती कितना देती है! धरती माता
कितना देती है अपने प्यारे पुत्रों को!
हम जैसा बोयेंगे वैसा ही पायेंगे।
And while I stand there, contemplating that no matter how much we ‘pay’ for these vegetables, it would never be able to equal the love our Mother Earth showers upon us, my mother, done with her successful negotiations with the vendor, hands him the money, takes the change back and concludes-
Disclaimer – The following post is written in collaboration with my friend Aayush Jha. Follow his lovely blog TheCommonBoy .
In India, its food is the celebration of its diversity, culture and rich history. It is a thread that connects the multi-cultured people of India; and though the food and eating habits change region by region, the love, joy and spirit of sharing behind cooking throughout the country remains constant.
When we talk about Nawabi cuisine, the first thing that strikes my mind is meat, “Waise bhi Yaar non-veg hi toh asli khana hai baki sab toh ghaas phoos hai”. Talking about Nawabi Cuisine, Lucknow, the Capital of ‘Awadh’, cannot be missed.
Lucknow, one of most beautiful and historically rich towns of North India, famous for its grandiose architecture and eclectic sumptuous delicacies, like Moti Pulao, Tunday Kebab, Lucknowi Dum Pukht Biryani, Arvi ka salan etc. is a direct trip to paradise for all the connoisseurs of food.
One delicacy that beats all the others both, in taste and popularity, is Kebab. They have their own importance, throughout Lucknow, and the saying “Lucknow ke Nawab aur wahan ke Kebab”, which symbolizes the importance of Nawabs and evolution of Kebabs during their reign, proves this.
It is worth-noting that the Nawabs of Lucknow were not as much famed for conquests and expansions as they were for being patrons of art, architecture and food. The Nawabs had a great sense for food and greatly relished eating meaty delicacies.
There is one kebab that is widely known for uniqueness, The Galouti Kebab; it’s the first of its kind of Kebabs. Until 16th century AD, the Kebabs used to be quite chewy and hard in texture. This trend changed with the arrival of Asa-ud-Daula, the successor of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula. He significantly contributed in culinary and architecture of Lucknow. He brought about a ‘Renaissance’ in the cuisines of that era. It’s during this time that the Galouti Kebab came into existence.
According to historians, Nawab Asa-ud-Daula, had lost all his teeth due to his lavish lifestyle; but this did not deter his craving for Kebabs. He asked his ‘Khansamas’, the royal chefs, to prepare such a kebab which was soft and could be easily dissolved in mouth, unlike the earlier Kebabs that required a great deal of functioning of teeth.
The name ‘Galouti’ itself self suggests “soft”. It is said that Mohammed Fakr-e-Alam was the first one who made Galouti Kebabs, he his said have also invented the Moti Pulao.
Galouti Kebab is prepared by finely mincing the lamb meat and then marinating it in an extraordinary variety of spices, precisely 150 different spices, that enhances its taste, it is deep fried in ‘Shuddh Desi Ghee’. These patty shaped Kebabs take your taste buds on a heavenly journey. Galouti Kebabs have placed Lucknow on the culinary world map. If you ever happen to be in lucknow, then now you know what you should do…..
“Lucknow aye aur kebab na khaya, to kiya kya? Aaiye jaanab, kebab ka lutf uthaien…”Aadab…