When a distant cousin dropped into Mumbai on a business trip, a fun filled day ended with a session of stomach illnesses, a weight loss of around 2 kilos and a very very red face!
Well, this is how it began…
A good 12-hour long sleep later after landing in Mumbai, the ‘pardesi’ cousin was still jetlagged from the torturous flight journey from America. It was his misfortune that all the five menacing little brothers and sisters from Gujarat were in town to celebrate the rainy seasons. Early that Saturday morning, he was dragged out of his bed and pushed into the pouring rains to enjoy the lovely weather. In the meantime, the old women had well prepared a good breakfast including a stack of jars of crispy phafda jalebis fried in ghee along with mouth-watering dhebras, dhoklas and spicy chevdas.
An hour later, the huge pile that sat on his plate in front of him frightened the cousin. He quietly asked me, “Are you sure this all for me?” The elderly uncle who sat across the table threatened the unfortunate foreigner with his spoon, “Boy, you look like a stick man. Yes, of course all this food is for you. If you don’t eat, who will?” The aged uncle had gone on for hours with a lecture on the American culture and their horrible habits. Finally, the elders retired to the common room, the young ladies to cook lunch and the children were spared with some money to take the cousin around town.
The first destination was Juhu beach. We enjoyed throwing sand at each other and running along the coast, with the salty waves hitting our feet occasionally. The energy gained from the morning’s breakfast was now lost. A young girl cried her lungs out for a plate of the famous pav bhaji. We had no option other than to sit with her and enjoy the buttery pavs followed by a plate of spicy bhel puri, vada pav and then the freezing golas. The cousin felt as though his throat had undergone a process of cleaning with a strong disinfectant. One of the boys told him, “It’s your first time. Come to India frequently and you will get used to it. This is nothing.”
We moved on ahead to the nearest cinema to watch the latest Shahrukh Khan movie. We still had two hours to spare before the show began. We unanimously agreed to a plate of the crispy pani puris at a street stall while we waited. The cousin was tempted too and had quietly indulged into the wonderful tasty food. A few seconds later we noticed his face go deep red followed by a shrilled cry and some panting for water. The children clutched on to their stomachs as they watched the hilarious episode being performed by the suffering cousin.
Unfortunately, we could not get to the movie hall. Instead, we had three children suffering from stomach casualties and a very red-faced cousin who, between his visits to the washroom, continued to complain about eating in India.
Mumbai is well known for its food, food lovers, the cutting chai, and the Indian cinema. We all want to be a part of this no matter what we have to suffer thereafter.
So here is a simple question: Is the huge doctor’s bill worth the crispy puris, the firing chilly pani, the dollops of butter in the bhaji and the savouring chutneys in the vada pav?