Monday, February 13, 2012


The jetty service cutting across the Arabian Sea would save us around 70 kms of drive. The sea has cut in sharply inside the land. The jetty service was meant to ease the pain of the long travel along the water body. Cars, vans, small busses all parked inside the compact steamer as it slowly trudged its way across the sea water.

Visibility was limited to a bend and till the bend all we could only see were cars parked one after the other. We parked our car behind this long line of cars, came out and ourselves trudged along to see how many cars where there before the jetty. There were not many cars. We were the 11th car. In the morning we had crossed through another similar jetty and we knew that there would be space for 9 cars, maximum 10. We would just not make it. We found out that the steamer was due in another 10 minutes or so. While Abhijit, Mihir and Satyam waited to test their luck, I ventured on the opposite direction to quench the basic need called hunger. It was already late afternoon. Adventurous spirit and late breakfast could only feed me up to a certain limit. After that my stomach behaves in a very rebellious fashion.

I started wondering whether the jetty was built around the village or the village around the jetty as a walked down the lane through this particularly quite village. I was looking for some clue to solve this intriguing chicken-egg paradox when I saw this quaint hut in front of me. There was a shade in front of the hut. In the shade there was 1 table and 5-6 chairs. There was a signboard displaying the paraphernalia in offer. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that this signboard, written in Marathi, had the names of the various types of cold drinks in a font which was double the size of the font in which availability of chicken and mutton was displayed. So was it that food was a secondary business for them? I inquired about availability of food to the two gentlemen who were gossiping idly in front of the hut.
“I’ll just inquire and come,” said one of the gentlemen, as he slowly moved himself from his comfortable position and moved indoors. He came out after a couple of minutes and asked me, “Sir, are you alone?”
“No, we are four people, “said I.
“Sir, let me check again,” said he as he vanished indoors again.
He reappeared again after a couple of minutes and said, “We have just enough for four people sir. You can come. We would be happy to serve you”
It almost felt like I had come to somebody’s house and he was offering me food from his own kitchen. It did not feel as if I am in a restaurant. In fact, I don’t know by what name to call the place. I could not call it a restaurant for sure. Well, hunger increases by many folds when you know that food is near. I almost ran back. The steamer had still not come. My friends were still waiting. I started praying to God for two things, one; please bring the steamer fast, two; please there should not be place for us in the steamer. God listened to my second prayer. And by the time he granted me the second prayer, I started wishing he had ignored all my prayers.
Well we missed a place in the steamer. We took our place in the front of the queue for the next ferry. And then we headed for the hut. Before long we had hot food on the table and it was sheer bliss. I am a Bengali, and I sometimes claim myself to be a carnivore. But this was one of the rare occasions when I thanked God that he made humans omnivorous beings.  There was rice, bhakri, some sabjis, ( I did not care to ask what they were). But the food was real good. I asked the person serving us, that in the board it was mentioned that they served chicken and mutton. Then why was it not available today. He said that on Thursdays they have pure vegetarian food.
It was a sumptuous meal. It was one of those meals which you would always remember whenever you remember a trip. There was nothing extra ordinary about the meal but the beautiful simplicity of the meal was what made it stand out in our memory. It was the right thing, at the right place at the right time. It was also serendipity.

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