Another Sunday evening went by and I didn’t feel like cooking. Street food is always an option when you are in India and it felt like my palette would fancy some hot Idlis and the spicy hot Chutney made with tomatoes and onions. I realized when I got there that the Idli guy had taken the weekend off too! However, there was a guy standing at his stall (an auto-rickshaw converted to accommodate his two coal stoves and other utensils), too engrossed in making food for the many who crowded the stall. The colourful board on his converted rickshaw read ’99 varieties of Dosas’ and it was encircled with serial lights blinking away the most gaudy combination of colours. I weighed my options…idlis and dosas use the same batter…so I guess it was an apt replacement!
I placed my order and stood there waiting for him to serve others. On a cold breezy night, the warmth of the coal stove soothed my skin and I enjoyed the wait. I enjoyed watching the look on others’ faces while they tasted whatever they had ordered and I was convinced that I would enjoy my dinner. Every dosa looked different from the other. His finesse at making two dosas, one on each stove, suggested how long he had been doing this. His chiseled muscles, a clear indication of the strength required to keep making dosas without a break.
Apart from the hard work he put into his work, there was something else that was charming. He served his dosa in two halves on banana leaves placed carefully on stainless-steel plates. The chutneys too were served in a similar fashion on banana leaf-boats. There was a certain grace with which he laid out the food and called out to his customers. And the smile on his face was endearing and welcoming. As he got to my order after the better part of an hour, he nervously nodded and said, “I am making yours now, sorry for the wait.” The only words that escaped my mouth were, “Please take your time.”
I later relished each morsel of my ‘sweetcorn masala dosa’ listening to music and making a mental note to write about him. That dosa guy taught me some valuable lessons:
- Work so hard that when the pennies jangle in your pocket, you can smile with satisfaction.
- A warm welcome is one with a smile.
- No matter what your work, put efforts in every dimension of the task.
- Smile even when you are at your lowest because it can lift someone else’s spirits.
- Be humble.
“The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” – Robert Doisneau