Down Memory Lane “Come, let’s eat pani puri.” That sentence is intrinsic to one of my most cherished food memories. It involves my mother, my grandmother, and a pair of street food stalls in Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda district.
I first started eating at the Sanjay sandwich and Gupta chaat stalls during long afternoons spent in the area with Ma and Ammi. Frustrated with fifth-grade homework and tired of household duties, the three of us would put our responsibilities on hold and treat ourselves to some time off. I’d browse the aisles of the local music store while they would check out saris in the neighbouring shop. Eventually, they’d come find me, and Ammi would say those five magic words, leading the way to the stalls.
Between the three of us, we’d get through servings of pani puri, sev puri and hot aloo-cheese toasts and wash it all down with cold, tall glasses of ganna (sugar cane) juice. We wouldn’t talk much for those few minutes, but there was a palpable sense of carefree contentment that ran through us.
We don’t go there together as often any more, with Ammi getting older. But our trysts with those snacks continue, spurred mainly by my memories of the place. When in the area, I always make it a point to stop by for a quick dose of chutney-laden crunch and butter-slathered goodness and pack something up to take home.
I realised that I go back to places and foods because of the people I associate with them. Engaging with others and sharing those experiences has lefta deep imprint on my gastronomic memories.
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February - March 2020