Category Archives: street food

Packing, Packing, Packing…And Leaving

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” 

― Dr. Seuss

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It’s time to leave.

I leave behind Mumbai and India, arriving in the United States on Christmas Day. That’s my Christmas gift this year – getting back home.

For the last few days, it seems like all I did was work and pack.  That much packing for someone who merely made a temporary home here!  One of these days, I swear I will listen to Leo Babauta who writes in his Zen Habits blog about the ideal life – about simplicity and minimalist living.  

It sounds superb.  But I just can’t seem to get there from here. And I’ve never wanted to get there more than during the last few days of packing!

Underlying all this busy work though, this time has been especially sad and hard – so much more than I expected. When you start thinking that you will miss the smell, grime, and chaotic traffic of Mumbai, you know it’s bad!

The Yin and Yang of Life in India

Endings always do this to me. It’s not that I am not looking forward to the next chapter. Of course, I am!

But I find that once I am part of a new beginning, it begins to take over rapidly and there’s usually no looking back.

Maybe that’s what it is about this situation that makes me morose. Chapter closed. No looking back.

Yes, I believe that what’s really gnawing at me and at the bottom of this feeling it’s all about people – old relationships that were strengthened and new ones that were forged. Just because I happened to live here for two years. That’s who I will miss the most.

Get over it, I’m telling myself, even as I write this.

Imagine if I had been so unlucky that the connections and adventures of these past two years had not even occurred? Now that would be something to cry about! Instead, I got to immerse myself in new experiences and new places for a short but rewarding time.

And what exactly did I get in return? Ah yes, the yin and yang of life in India.

Okay, so I’m over my gloom now. I’m happy.

Really.

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“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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Pilgrimage to Bandra

I don’t quite remember which Mumbai friend first introduced me to Pani Puri at Elco Market in Bandra.  Whoever you are, I am eternally grateful.  Over the past couple of years, as I visited Bombay on my bi-monthly business trips, I would always somehow make time for my pilgrimage to Bandra and Elco Market.  Now that I live here, I am trying to limit my pilgrimages to one weekly trip.

I didn’t even know how much I liked pani puri until I tried this dish here.   It’s technically street food.  Here at Elco, you have a sense of cleanliness (real or imagined).   The guy who’s actually dishing out the pani puri wears a clean ,disposable glove – at least on the one hand that dips the puri into the spicy and sweet water to make it whole and complete.   And, I heard (but never verified) that they use bottled or filtered water to make the pani.  That can be pretty important.  But nothing is quite as important as sheer taste!

For the uninformed and uninitiated, Pani Puri consists of taking tiny, crisp puris and dipping each in an equal amount of sweet/tart and spicy water, then handing it quickly over to the customer.  Included in the puri will be a small amount of boiled lentil.  Said customer then puts the entire water-filled puri in his or her mouth and gulps it down.  At Elco, they don’t serve you a plate where you make your own.  You stand around the pani puri counter where the pani puri guy makes each masterpiece himself – with just the right amount of sweet and spicy water – for you to wait your turn and just gobble down.

Seshram Serving Up Delicious Pani Puri at Elco Market; Photo by vishalphotography.com

One “plate” of pani puris at Elco consists of six servings or puris.  Most people settle for one plate and then branch out to some of the other goodies that are being freshly prepared.   Some graduate to maybe two plates and you can sometimes see on their faces that that was more than they had bargained for.

But not moi.  If I don’t have three full plates at each visit, then there’s something truly wrong with me.   Each tiny puri is power-packed with taste and flavor.  It is crisp yet succulent.  It is spicy yet sweet.  It is minimal yet full.  It is simply, food ecstacy.   Of course, this is just my humble opinion.  You would think I am describing something else altogether!  But, I insist that I’m not.

On your next visit to this city, see if you can find some time to make your own pilgrimage to Elco Market at Bandra.  It will be worth it.  This review shows what other goodies you can find there.  And, here at this photo blog is another great picture of the pani puri at Elco (scroll down and you can’t miss it!), in addition to some wonderful and colorful pictures of Mumbai.   Enjoy!

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