It was a dark August evening. A storm was brewing. Our maths tuition just got over and we had to head for our next class, shielding the storm, filling our tummies. With barely ten rupees or Dus Rupayia in our pockets, we were wondering what could be done to fill our tummies with minimum time, cost, and effort; before we head for our next class in our two-wheelers.
This is when Shayo, the foodie of our group introduced us to what they call the “ jhal – mudhi wale chacha”. With just a lantern and a stove as his assets, his “thela” (stall) stood in our very tuition lane under a street light post. This revelation gave us quite a shock as no place till then was saved from the clutches of we brats. Maybe the hustle-bustle of the nearby eateries got this dainty little “thela” go unnoticed and unexplored. As we went there, we were overwhelmed by the number of options we got to choose from. All available with a mere rupees ten.
Jhal –mudhi, papdi- chat, bhel puri, tikia –chat, mixture – chat to name a few. But chacha has this “ bumper “ offer of everything @ 10 “just for the students”. As for locals, he charges five rupees extra. It got me to wonder how could he differentiate between students and locals. By their bags! he adds with a grin. But near his thela one could hardly spot anyone who’s not with his bag. Even the daily workers to the chai – walas themselves, everyone happens to be with their bag – packs.
But our chacha never minds and generously asks them for ten and not fifteen. This generosity along with the “ love at first bite” taste is what brings us back to his thela again and again. The crunchy top layer of the papdi and the combination of spicy and tangy taste as one takes a spoonful of papdi chat and the aroma of the hot “ ghuguni “ he prepares in his stove, could make one go frenzy. So it’s advisable to maintain a distance of at least 5 meters from his thela in order to be able to control yourselves as he prepares his delicacies. Else you may not be surprised if you have a burnt tongue or fingers within a span of seconds. His larger than the life-size “thunga” (cone made of paper), where he adds four cups of mudhi, five varieties of the mixture, a spoonful of pickle, little bit oil, pepper, black – salt, onion, coriander leaves, chilly flakes, aam – chur, and his self made a sauce of tamarind and “gur” all into the “thunga” @ rupees 10 and the quantity would be too little not to suffice a family. From that day, if at all anyone courageous in school dares to ask,” Dus rupay mein kya milta hai?”, the next action to be to take the person to chacha’s thela and let her bear the brunt of the aroma and sight from 1 mt. or so as chacha continues to prepare and make the person eat and eat and eat till he finally says,” Dus rupey mein kya nahin milta hai?”
Connecting over stories tinged with sarcasm and ideas to take over the world!