Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Category: chai wala

CHAI PAKORA TALES

I came across a byte how the “pakorawala’s” shot into fame when they were mentioned in certain despatches in the Rajya Sabha. The famous “chaiwala” has already left a mark and now is a chance for this man to come to lime light. I saw many news anchors; mind you head of news channels going around their studios tasting various types of pakoras made by these hard working simpletons. I am convinced that to become successful in this country one has to either become a chaiwala or a pakorawala. This reminded me of days many moons back when “khalis doodh ki cha” and “garma garam pakoras” were in vogue.

I honed my skills of making chai as a little boy. The cuppa tea I used to brew used to be one litre of pure “bhains” milk, two big table spoons of tea leaves, two green elaichi’s nice and crushed in a “kharal”, four or five big spoons full of sugar and boil all these together. Tea used to be a minimum “dus ubala” which meant the concoction used to rise and fall at full heat in the “degchi” ten times. The dancing tea leaves would come up to the brim and then I used to lift the vessel off the “pump wala stove” to let it settle down and repeat. Then put one tea spoon of tea leaves in the “channi” and pour the liquid into my mug enamel. The brownish colour used change to coffee colour and that’s what I called a good cuppa steaming hot tea.

Well, if chai comes can pakoras be far behind. My favourite used to be bread pakoras. The “besan” coated ones I used to relish “aloo bhar ke”. All these were deep fried and in fact in the good old days it used to be in Dalda or Rath ghee. I recall dalda used to be a yellow colour tin with a few palm trees and Rath used to be a sky blue one with a chariot printed on it. Later they started calling it vanaspati, I couldn’t make out the difference. Much later refined oil came in. Today, if you tell the doctor that I had ghee, he will start looking at his watch as if my time to walk this earth is over.

They say that my dad’s era used to be of desi ghee, my era was of dalda and the present generation are the refined oil kinds. Meaning that all the desi ghee kinds were strong and hard working, the dalda kinds worked hard but the refined oil ones just don’t (pun intended). Never heard my dad or grand dad fall ill or had cold or cough. Their sweet dish used to be a hot cup of sweetened milk with a big spoon of desi ghee and a dash of haldi. Halwa of any kind meant ghee floating on top. “Tarka” meant shudh home made desi ghee ka tarka. Roti always had ghee “chipor” ke.

I remember in my ancestral home town doodh & jalebi made in pure ghee used to be a staple breakfast. There used to be long queues to get that crispy, juicy, entangled piece of sweet. The way the halwai used to “fainto” the milk and jalebi’s together was a treat to watch. The milk used to drop more than a meter and a half & not a drop used to spill. The attraction to eat was not only to do with the taste but the presentation of the milky wonder.

In Punjab it used to “chola bhaturas”. Deep fried ones in ghee. The small flour ball was pressed and lifted in the palm. Two or three claps of the hands used to turn it into a bhatura. Then with an artistic throw in the piping hot Jacuzzi of ghee with the anti clock wise rotation it used to be chucked in. Swirling and turning as it went down. Before the bhatura hit the bottom of the “kadhai” it used to start rising. A huge sieve used to press upon it. Out of the bubbling ghee used to pop a crispy bhatura which was flipped in style while the next one was thrown in. All of us used to wait for our turn, mouth salivating all this while.

One could never master was the chutney these “rehriwala’s” used to make. Mom could never replicate that taste. Their green and red chutney was different from our home made ones. Everything was served on a “pattal” and licked clean by us. At the end of it asking for additional free chutney was our birth right. The “committee ka nalka” was the only source of water for the burns in the mouth. If we were lucky, it used to be a bottle of “milk badam” or “bante wala soda” from the next thela.

Life has moved on, the place where I am is “vada pao” and “kanda bhajia” territory. Let me assure you the taste is out of the world. Order a plate and you will repeat the order before finishing it. I dare say should these pakorawals go on strike; there will be hell to pay. Will they be able to live a life of dignity as was mentioned in the august house? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

THE-LIT THE PRIVILEGED OR THE TORMENTED

I went into the synonyms of the word dalit (oppressed) and found so many different meanings like, afflicted, harassed, beaten down, maltreated, persecuted, subjugated, suppressed, tormented, tortured, trampled, abused, crushed, troubled, tyrannised etc. Basically they were “untouchable” people of an era. Wikipedia has put them lower than the shudras. Now dalits have embraced various religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism etc. My goodness the burden of the words is too heavy. Do we have such atrocities being carried out on our people still?

Why after 70 years a dalit is still a dalit. One dalit is the President’s of India, one gave us the constitution, some became Chief Ministers, and some of them are MPs and members of the legislative assemblies. Quite a few of them are part of the Indian Bureaucracy. We have doctors, lawyers, engineers, police forces yet that word is attached to them. Many of them adorn uniform as part of the Armed Forces; thank God we don’t have any such differentiation.

I have served in various regions of India and I did not find any untouchable people. Yes, I met poor people and often shared a meal and shook hands with them. I did see illiterate people but with deep knowledge of the weather, terrain and life in general. I saw areas where tap water and electricity were unheard of. I served in areas where means to commute was only walking. I did see areas where there was no health care at all. Yes people were sturdy and healthy due to their life style. If you ask them how many camels or yaks do they have they used to quote in hundreds?  Multiply it with a cost of the animals; they will be richer than many crorepatis by miles. They were super rich from their hearts.

Hasn’t India marched into the 21st century?  I can understand that caste divides are there, mostly so in the minds of my and a generation prior to mine. This too shall have no meaning soon. I wish we could follow what we do in the armed forces that whatever trade you belong to you are soldiers first. Religion, caste creed doesn’t matter. The focus is on the enemy and the aim is to defeat him at any cost. Who cooks, who cleans, who serves, who fires and who drives does not matter. Everyone is a combatant, everyone has to fight. It is a team that matters. Enemy bullet is not selective; it pierces everyone in its path. The blood which spills is of the same colour irrespective of its group. The same blood is given to save life without asking which caste or creed the donor belonged to. It is precious so don’t let it spill on the roads unnecessarily.

Our society is all mixed up with divisions which are self created. If the people of the lower rung of the society do not want to raise their standards then who is responsible for it? I know everyone wants to be rich and fast. Everyone wants a job, which is highly paid with only perks & maximum privileges. Everyone wants VIP treatment by getting reservations for self and all the next generations. No one wants to walk the talk. Very few do it and reach great heights but still want to be attached to that word for more gains. Sad but true.

The age relaxations, the percentage reductions for qualifications, the lowering of physical standards for a certain category of people will lead this country into dark ages. The deserving will be left out and the undeserving will rule the roost. The PM too sold tea but is the head of our state, we proudly acknowledge. Tea vending was a phase, how he worked hard to reach this position is what matters. The President of India today, is also from an untouchable caste I am told. Well, his credentials and hard work made him a Governor and now the President. Isn’t it a matter of pride and honour?

If the old definition still applies to PM & the President then they should not even shake hands as they are untouchables or dalits. What I say is, let us remove this word dalit completely. Every human being is a creation of God, some have lesser opportunities, agreed, give them special attention, give them equal education and let them prove themselves. May be after a few generations their progenies would be better than the best. Let us be Indians and not divided into ST, SC, Dalit, shoshit, vanchit, peerit, etc. We need to change the way we think. We have to think we are Indians first. We need to unhook ourselves from the word Dalit and pave our own way.

Let us move away from untouchability to touching lives that make a difference. Too much of reservations have actually ruined the fabric of this country. When will this stigma of gradation of humans in India be eradicated? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

NICHE OR NEECH

I found Mr MSI finally getting entangled in his own web of words. The words he used to describe his and my PM were the neechest as neech could be. Now that the words have been fired, the only option he had was to twist the tail as is done everywhere in politics for everything which goes wrong. The blame game starts and he blamed it on him being a south Indian. Aye yai yo. We simple, uneducated Indians can see through the smart act of yours sir.

Be that as it may, had he had his way and say, if Modi ji had lost the elections I am sure a new chai wala would have been serving the parliamentarians. That is what he meant when he said that in seven generations Modi cannot become PM. I wish MSI saab you had served in fauj, you would have known the moment you become over confident in your job you tend to be callous. With all the insurgency experience one may predict that the militants are holed up in one house, it invariably happens that they are in the house behind you and that’s what has happened to you. So instead of you being the hunter, you have become the hunted.

I can understand your hatred for the party PM belongs to, or your dislike for their beliefs, or for that matter the abhorrence you show to the man himself. Today you have been suspended from the party officially by someone equivalent to your son. How shameful and disgraceful can it be? Well, you are the best judge. You lived in a house so long and now you have to sit outside and tell your children stories that how you wanted to carve out a “niche” but landed up ousted for using the word “neech”.

I have heard you speaking both languages very fluently. The “tongue of slip” which happened when you wanted to convey neech rajniti and not a neech person is not possible because of your south Indian genes for sure. It was deliberate; it was a definite. It was a conscious derogatory attack, it meant to insult if not abuse and it was aimed at belittling the PM which was clearly evident from the tone and the tenor of your conversation.

You have been a polished diplomat of this country and a thoroughbred politician. You may have been a rebel in the congress but I have seen you as a refined, well read and a distinguished Indian. You have represented India the world over in many forums and conducted yourself with grace and finesse. To see such a person suddenly turn into this foul mouthed, uncouth person is difficult to fathom. A person who is so clear about the country’s history and geography, a person who spent umpteen years in Pakistan during the worst times, who may not have used such derogatory language ever for the enemy, then how as per you can your own elected Prime Minister become neech or do low level politics. It was the most indecent word that you could have ever used. If the way the PM and his party have been able to sell themselves in Gujarat which is hurting the congress, result day is not far. If your choice of words for the PM can change the mandate to the congress, I think you are in for a shock. I wish both the parties good luck.

I used to yearn for your debates on NDTV in a programme called “politically incorrect”, where I found you to be most politically correct. Your opponents used to waiver but your arguments, your flow of thoughts, your understanding of Indian politics used to fascinate me. Your clarity of mind and the eloquence in putting across your opinion was beyond compare and convincing but the day you came out with the chai wala comment you started losing me and many others from your fan club. Now you have lost me completely. I know I am no one but definitely as a citizen I want to express my anger and anguish at your deportment and behaviour about the most prestigious position of this country. Not done by gentlemen sir. I am not sure if there are any left in today’s politics.

You have been shown the door. That’s the least Congress could do. I wish you could have had a graceful exit. Your apologies make no difference now, as the damage has already been done. You can keep justifying the word neech, doesn’t make a difference to man or beast.

Just one more request sir, whatever grudges you hold against whomsoever, including me, be done with it once for all. Stand at India gate and call everyone all the adjectives you know and spit out all the bitterness as fast as you can. That reminds me BJP welcomes people from the congress with open arms, so kindly get into an uninterrupted and uninterruptable dialogue with Modi ji and gang as soon as possible. After all you and him are not India and Pakistan. Ni purintu kontaya? (Have you understood?) I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

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