Monday, June 20, 2011

Maggie and Chai

Scoffing at the humble Maggie Noodles was routine for me, as I saw my friends and cousins stir up a hot bowl of noodles through the years. To me it appeared a compromise of sorts to eat ' instant noodles' while there existed the more gastronomically evolved chow mein, pasta etc. All this attitude stayed with me till I did my first real Himalayan trek.
After 4 days of trudging up the cold slopes and eating half dried rotis with potato and pickle, I had enough! I could have killed for a hot meal of rice, dal and the works. Combined with the sub zero temperature, was the unending mountain slope, which just kept sloping up. For a first timer, this was as difficult as it could get.
In such hostile terrain...on an overcast stormy day as we tired trekkers lumbered though the last few kilometers of snow...did I discover my love for ' Maggie'. On a small clearing just across the snow...was a small man with a mobile shop of sorts...making hot tea, omelettes and Maggie. We followed the delicious smell till we reached him and stood there transfixed and he broke one egg after another and made the perfect ‘Omelette Maggie’ combo. He charged us thrice as much, and frankly I would have paid much more than that! Thus was the affair with Maggie rediscovered and has been rekindled with love on lazy weekends.

I longed to feel the same thing again...and as they say ' When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you get it :)
This trip to Mumbai was so special. It was raining cats and dogs...and everything else along with it. The skies had kind of opened up and wouldn't close.
I was staying close to the sea in Colaba and needless to mention the wind was wild...each time I ventured out, it turned my umbrella inside out and I had to get drenched. Despite all the hazards...I risked myself that Saturday morning to see the morning sea. The muddy brown Arabian Sea seemed lapped at the shores with a frenzy that scared me. Huge waves broke on the promenade and carried away stuff strewn on the road. For once I thanked my weight...the sea couldn't sweep me off.
I walked cold and windblown alongside the sea wishing for something hot. And there he was...out of nowhere a tall man with few plastic cups and a thermas of tea. He knew the look when he saw it...stopped unasked...poured me a cup...and took the money and left.
The cup of tea has got to be the best I’ve had in was regular tea spiced with some ginger and masala. And to stand in the rain...with drops falling into the tea…and watch the sea crash on the gate way of India.

For lack of inspiration, the ' Mastercard' tag line kept playing in my to Mumbai 5000 Rupees, stay in hotel 4000 Rupees, cup of tea on a rainy morning by the sea...priceless!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Rockstar!

I have met quite a few Pastors in churches across India in the last few years. They were wise, knowledgeable and had the special quality unique to spiritually inclined people.

This Easter was special. And I have concluded that the Pastor in our church in Pune is by far the most talented man ever. It isn’t an exaggeration if you read through the rest.

We were a little late for the Sunday service and tip toed to the empty seats. The singing wrapped up and the Pastor climbed the pulpit. In his usual mellifluous voice he proceeded to talk about Easter and brining out the symbolism of the rising of Jesus. He does speak well, among the best orators I have ever heard. The intonations of the pitch are perfect and he also adds a subtle theatrical touch to the talk.

I was listening to him, like the rest of the church, in wrapped attention. At a certain point in the message, he wanted to make a point about the story of how Jesus was betrayed and how he came back on Easter. Pastor broke into a song! I have heard him singing hymn before and he is melodious. But this was different!!

He had a tiny jingling handheld instrument that he shook with the beat of the song, and he broke into this almost rock like anthem. For a moment I was stunned. Everything in the periphery melted away, and I could only see our Pastor, standing in the pulpit, singing the song. If I had to compare it with any rock number I know, it would have to be ‘Hotel California’. The beats were kind of similar and so was his style of singing it.
His voice did the works…he slowed down , recited few lines in a different tone , had just the right accent and gave the finishing touches to a performance I’ll never forget.

The audience watched spellbound...I looked around to see people’s faces. Such talent is rare, combined with the kind of person he is. There was an element of surprise as well, as not many are musically gifted and instances of people singing completely out of tune is not rare.

I haven’t heard anyone of late who can compare with his voice, skill and ability to perform without any accompaniment.
For me, the man is a rockstar!!