Friday, May 14, 2010

Train Travel Clichés Made Interesting

Remember those steam engine trains with non-AC coaches of the India in the 1980s?
india-train My sister and I were enrolled in its frequent traveler program. Every holiday, we were packed off to our Dadu-Dida’s (grandparents) home on the banks of Sone River, a small industrial town called Dalmianagar.

The only rewarding thing about these short-distance train travels were the hawkers and sellers who boarded the train, and did very effective marketing and selling and entertaining all at the same time.

The times I wasn’t gaping at the agricultural landscape outside, I was awed by the chana-moong wala. That’s sprouted red gram and green moong for the uninitiated!

DSC08918-1In the last many years, I have replayed the image of that dhoti-clad man with a distinguishable gumcha around his neck many times, over and over again. Chopping and dicing, singing and hawking, balancing his basket of goodies on one knee, standing in the corridor of the train’s coach like an elegant stork. Doling out that heavenly mixture of sprouts and chopped onions with black salt and a squeeze of lemon. IMG_8035 Spreading it out carefully on a leaf, which he would curl up to make a little bowl, and throw in a leaf “spoon” for you to scoop the salad.

Now which salad bar on this earth can bring you that same happiness? Not one I can think of.

I have spent many sleepless nights thinking and salivating about that same chana salad.
IMG_8034I was feeling particularly ambitious about making it for myself today as a light lunch. Yesterday’s horrid wetness had dampened my spirits and my salon-treated tresses. But the thought of chowing on a sprout salad and soaking up some Vitamin D cheered me up.

Looks like I am deriving some of my energy from this picker upper salad.
IMG_8036Its color and crunch are guaranteed to kick start the weekend. I will have a good one! I know you will too.


Jaya M said...

amaar bhishon bhalo lagto train e chana khete ..I have tried many times making sprout chaat ,kinto seyi original train er moton hoye na kicho teyi...dilli te dui teen bochor chilaam ,amaar meyer okhane birth..tumi ki dillir meye(Chittarnjan/Kalkaji):)..
hugs and smiles

PreeOccupied said...

@Jaya, aami bokuni khetaam train'er jinish kine khele. :-(

But that never stopped me!

Aami double whammy, Bengali who grew up in Bihar and spent many years in Delhi - Green Park. Not a CR Park Bongo. :-)

Shilpa said...

You just amaze me with your recipes :)

Arnob said...

I have this amazing memory of a bus trip, taken in 1995 from Delhi to Allahabad via Lucknow, on a crisp winter morning, and encountering some of the most interesting local munchies on the way. Out of the myriad chana masala's, hare chaney, and tons of moong daal fry, one of the most unforgettable was the Kale choley I had en route at a small village stopover. I distinctly remember alighting in the misty morning, out onto a small cacophony of shops, colored green, blue and red, with the usual splatterings of Amitabh's face on walls, gritted and greased with posters offering sexual health, a la viagra!
On one side of this entire parade, sat a old man, in greyed and rudely tattered dhoti, looking as peaceful as one in post Nirvana heaven, and somehow oblivious to him, the small basket of black, freshly boiled and strained choley seemed to be the most inviting thing i have seen in a long time. A helping of this in a leaf cone, with a leaf spoon, was Rs. 2, and I remember the amused look the chap had when i asked him to wrap another 5 Rs worth of the same. I think he put in a extra few handfuls, just so he was so happy that I (jeans clad, hair shoulder length and led zep emblazoned on the chest) would buy such a rudimentary meal.
Never could remember the place, and still have days when i rue not noting down diligently where this was! Somehow images of the old man still float in, every December, with the fog and a cup of tea!

PreeOccupied said...

@Arnob, those are exactly the memories which live with you all your life. How I wish I could recreate some of those recipes. But no, they are rightfully theirs, and so it shall remain.

? said...

For many of us who travelled the great Indian railways tracks, this was one nostalgic post!The flavours changed with the terrain....

Unknown said...

Great post! Very informative.
Thanks for possibility to write on your website,
it's great!
I’m still hoping there will be more posts on this site.
Thanks a lot!

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