If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Jun 23, 2010


You can climb Mount Everest and achieve immortality. Or be President of the country or discover the cure to cancer. Or run a bhelpuri stall. Just of Hill road on the road leading to the Pork market. The cart is wheeled into place every evening. Blue wheels, stainless steel counters and glass cabinets. In which lie daily replenished mountains of sev and ghatias and puris and kurmuri. The dry ingredients that go into bhel. The handle bar mustachioed owner with his silver ear ring exchanges the days news with the now vacating fruit wallah. The culvert on the side is dusted off . The first in are the school children. With grubby coins and currency notes whose DNA has been joined forever to chewing gum in school uniform pockets. Sukha bhel. With six puris. One for each of the shareholders in the bhel buying enterprise. Which Mummy had expressly forbidden in the monsoon. Unless you want to die of jaundice or cholera or typhoid or luke something .
“ And don’t think I’m going to look after you if you fall sick ! “
The six shareholders have a split vote. Wheter the bhel should be meetha or tikka. With the wisdom of Solomon Mr. Bhelwalla informs them that he can do meeta tikka . And knowing the catholic palate of his target audience the meeta far out weighs the tikka. The puri of share holder No.2 has broken. His own fault. Because when it was his turn for a scoop he tried to push too far down. He knew that you can’t really balance six inches of bhel vertically on a 1.5” diameter puri, but his puri died trying. Mr. Bhelwalla aaka know as Bhaiya or more correctly as Arre Bhaiya out of the largesse of his heart hands him another. Shareholder No.6 wants water. Which comes to him in a rolled up sheet of paper. You have to drink it before the paper gets soggy. The scooping puris remain with the bhel having run out halfway thru the second round.
“ I told you only four people should share”
Promoters quota?
The puris are munched on, on the walk home. Where a planned feigned apettite for bread pudding becomes real.
You have to buy new rain shoes. At Batas.
‘ No football today. Change out of your uniform and be ready at 5.”
“ OK Mummy “
The route goes within hailing distance of the Bhelwalla. Pavlovionally, he salivates.
They get the shoes. Slightly oversized.
“Then they’ll fit you next year also.”
Back the way the came. With old Bata chapplas in a new shoe box and new shoes being put into every puddle to test for sea worthiness. Discreetly.
“ Do you want bhelpuri ?”
“ What? “
Is the Pope a German Catholic ? Is Bal Thackeray Maharahtrian? Is Sonia Gandhi Indian or Italian ? Stop at the first two.
“ Don’t tell your brother and sister that we had bhel, And definitely don’t tell Daddy . He’ll want to know where’s his share and it’s bad for his cholesterol”
Bhelpuri Bahiya and Mummy have a familiarity that makes you think that he too is a member of the Ladies Sodality.
“ Arre Baba vapaas”
Mummy “ Vapaas?”
“ Jo- boy wanted to have bhel so I came with him. But I didn’t have .“
Mummy “ Bhaiya ek meeta bhel aur dho puri. “


Anonymous said...

Oooh now I want a Bhel and I really shouldn't - jaundice and cholera and all that :(

Neil said...

I'm in Bombay at the moment & I ate Sev Puri, Missal, Bhajias et al, WITH teekha chutney! No jaundice or stomach upset at all! Enjoy......

wag said...

Oh boy! Does that bring back memories. Once when at that very same bhelpuriwala (this said with taste buds quivering) some foreigners stopped by for a sampling of 'local cuisine'. The little girl who must have been 7 or 8, looking at her first puri asked, 'What's this?' To which, our ever hospitable Arre Bhaiyya replied, 'Biscuit. Indian biscuit!' Now, there's an anecdote to archive!

Kunal Bhatia said...

Ha ha, this makes for an interesting post. :)

Greetings, from a Mumbai photo-blogger
- Mindless Mumbai

Edward said...

Reminds me....slurp....of the Bhaiya opp the police quarters....
had the best bhel in town....

~crazymms~ said...

nice blog....loved it !!