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 starved...it 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 years...it 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 head...cab to Mumbai 5000 Rupees, stay in hotel 4000 Rupees, cup of tea on a rainy morning by the sea...priceless!!