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9 Apr 2016

Humility


He always wore a white shirt with brown stripes on it and raggedy dark blue pants that ended 3/4th of an inch above his ankles. He was maybe in his early forties (circa 2008) and the areas above his pockets, all four of them, always were smudged with black (I’d already decided what to buy him for Diwali). He was missing a tooth on the top left corner of his smile and his hair was salt and pepper a la George Clooney, except without the 100-dollar hair products.

I used to reach his little shack-shop at 10.20 am, half an hour after he had set up shop. And after the first three times, he would start packing my order as soon as the 1C bus driver pulled up into the stand. Wrapped up in yesterday’s newspaper, he used to pick the ones which were less oily because I had tut-tutted at the film coating my fingers on the first day. He also made sure I got the perfectly shaped ones, the ones without the oil-wreaked deformities. No coconut chutney either (he knew I’d only waste most of it).

So I’d go, pick up my parcel, and start eating even as I was paying him. 20 rupees. And make small talk. Ah, the summer heat. His wife’s health. My mother’s school. His daughter’s math problems. Then I’d say goodbye and stalk off to catch the next bus. 

I suspect he took my wolfing down three of them before I even left the shop as a sign of my love for his cooking. The little ones were his specialty.        

Mum always says that the feelings of the cook spills over into the food – the more the love and the dedication to make the eater taste a little bit of heaven, the more delectable the food. 

And I swear to God, I have never, yet, had better medhu vadas in 26 years of existence. 

His thela disappeared before the summer was over, though. But not once have I passed the bus stand without thinking of him. I wish I’d at least asked for his name.