3 very nostalgic BTs

1.There is something in the air. Six or seven times this week, I can hear the roar of fighter planes. I crane my neck, run to the window every time a plane passes by. The direction of all planes is the same, the come roaring from the north easterly direction and go south.

We used to play in the street in front of our house, when I was a kid. Whenever a plane / a jet (leaving a smoky trail) used to pass by in the sky, I used to shout ” Bye Bye Anand Kaka”. Anand Kaka is my dad’s elder brother and he lived in the US at that time. In my childhood he and his family were the only people I knew who had flown by an aeroplane. So, every time a plane passed by I would assume that it was him in the plane and he was off somewhere. It took me a lot of time to realize that he would not be traveling in any plane that I can see, and moreover why would planes flying in USA travel over India!!

2. I keep thinking of the Park cities. The Park cities are Highland Park and University Park, two towns near Dallas downtown. Whenever the weather was a bit sunny and a gentle breeze was blowing, I used to ask Sameer to take me for a drive on Preston road and we invariably used to end up in the Park cities. There were rows and rows of beautiful houses and parks, which were an absolute eye candy. After the drive we used to end up in this cafe on Mockingbird Lane.

3. I love chaat. There are only three places where I have truly enjoyed chaat. The places I am mentioning are in no particular order.

One of them is Kanpur, of course. The rewards of eating chat were doubled when we went to celebrate after completing a particularly tedious project or an assignment. Eating chaat at Naveen market was always coupled with a shopping expedition.

The second place is Lucknow. Eating Aloo Tikki and Pani Puri outside Royal Cafe in Hazrat Ganj after shopping for chikankari is a self imposed tradition. It also serves something called as Basket Chaat, which should be called Bucket chaat because of the sheer quantity of chaat that you get in the potato basket. I usually bypass the basket chaat, and have my way with the Aloo tikki and at least 3-4 rounds of pani puri.

When I went to US, I thought I would miss out on the weekly chaat trips that I had got used to when at Kanpur and Lucknow. But, a couple of days after my arrival in Dallas, Sameer took me shopping for Indian groceries to Taj superstore in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas. To my surprise, they had a small restaurant that served freshly made parathas, lassi and chaat! Pani puri was served by dunking the puri in pani using gloved hands. Mexican boys and girls under the watchful eyes of 4-5 Punjabi ladies doled out pani-puri, keeping track of the number of pani puris consumed by each of their customers and even, encouraging us to take more or suggesting lassi / chhaas for us to drink.

In Bangalore, I have not found a chaat place that comes as close to these three.


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