If you ever happen to be walking on a dusty street of Delhi, just stop for a moment and look around you. You will most certainly find a couple of culinary heroes. They are generally migrants who have come from far-flung towns and villages in UP, Bihar, Haryana, Darjeeling, Nepal, Mizoram, etc. From morning till night, they cook, toil, and sweat, and sell their stuff to the locals with the hope of earning enough money for themselves and their folks back home. Their grit, courage, and determination are really admirable and that’s what makes them little Gods in their own right. The items they sell may not qualify for Michelin’s 5-star status, but they carry that special touch and feel of the land they have originated from. This is what makes Delhi a melting pot of so many cultures and cuisines.
Let me tell you about 2 such people.
Raju: You will find him at Uttam Nagar Bus Terminal, near Uttam Nagar East Metro Station. He has come from Uttar Pradesh. From morning till night, he fries cocktail samosas in a little karahi and sells them to the passersby. His price is Rs.10 for 4 samosas, that is, Rs.2.50 per piece, which is damn cheap if you compare it with a standard samosa in Delhi which costs Rs.10 per piece. His low pricing is his way of fighting competition.
A few days ago, it was raining when I passed by his shop. I usually avoid street food, but I just couldn’t resist the temptation and I bought these samosas. I was pleasantly surprised to find them very tasty and the spices were very balanced too. During the rainy season, he puts up a tent and carries on because sales are much more when it rains. Considering the amount of plastic that goes inside a packet of Kurkure of the same price (Rs.10), these samosas are, I think, far safer and more nutritious. Try them whenever you are passing through this place and you feel like eating something crunchy and spicy.
Tashi Sherpa: Tashi works for a living at Mini Market, AG-1 Vikaspuri. He has come from Darjeeling and lives in Uttam Nagar at present. He began his business in Vikaspuri about a year ago. His daily routine begins here at 4 PM.
His most significant contribution to this locality has been the introduction of ‘Buglet,’ a recipe which he has brought from Darjeeling, and 2 new varieties of samosa, chowmein samosa and macaroni samosa.
Samosas with fillings other than potatoes were earlier associated with places like Moti Nagar and Paharganj. Thanks to Tashi, we get them now in AG-1, Vikaspuri too! He is doing quite well here, he says with his characteristic smile, especially with his buglets and samosas.
Buglet is a kind of roll made from maida stuffed with chicken or vegetables depending on the preferences of the customers. The roll is fried in a karahi and sliced into two before serving.
Here are the photographs.
Raju @ Uttam Nagar Bus Terminal
Tashi Sherpa, AG-1, Vikaspuri
Buglets being deep-fried…
Before serving/packing, each Buglet is sliced into 2 pieces.
Tashi, busy with his customers…
Here are a few more heroes and Gods. These pics were all clicked near Uttam Nagar Red Light…
Seller of luscious and colorful fruits
Guptaji’s Faluda Kulfi…
Pawan Tikki Burger
Selling Shikanji (drink made with lemon juice, water, sugar, ice, and spices)
Purple Jarul Flowers near Hari Nagar Depot Red light
Pink Jarul flowers at AG-1, Vikaspuri
Around mid-April, a huge purple patch of purple Jarul flowers suddenly appeared near the Hari Depot red light. I noticed them while travelling in a bus on my way to work. They looked gorgeous and seemed to add a special touch to their drab surroundings. I tried to click their pictures that day, but I couldn’t; the bus was moving too fast. I tried again during the next few days, but all in vain. Sometimes the bus didn’t stop and when it did, it was too far from the spot. I promised myself that one of these days, I would come here specially to take their pics. But unfortunately, due to work pressure, I just couldn’t find the time.
And then one morning, I observed that the flowers were much fewer in number. Day by day, they kept decreasing and I wondered sadly if I would ever get the chance to take their pics before they disappeared. Compared to Gulmohur and Amaltas, Jarul trees are much fewer in Delhi. You don’t find them everywhere.
On 5 May 2016, I read Mayank Austen Soofi’s post on these flowers in his blog theDelhiwalla.com (http://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2016/05/04/city-season-the-jarul-flowers-of-summer-jor-bagh/). That was sufficient to make me decide that it was now or never! I pushed my work aside as though it was a big emergency and I dashed out from my office that day to grab those shots before the flowers got trampled under the ruthless feet of Death. While I was on my way to that place, I had the same heady, tingling feeling of excitement that I had when I went out on my first date!
After reaching the spot, I clicked lots of pics of the Jarul flowers to my heart’s content and I plucked a few to keep in my poems diary. While returning, I took some pics of the plucked flowers too. I noticed that these flowers appeared to be of different color in different intensities of light.
And next evening, while walking from the bus stop to my home, I was pleasantly surprised to find another Jarul tree. Its flowers were of magenta color; some of them had fallen off and were lying on the ground just below the tree.
Here are all the pics. They give me a deep sense of fulfilment every time I look at them. Photos are, after all, one way of immortalizing special experiences.
Jarul flowers @ Hari Nagar
The images below are all of one particular Jarul flower. Amazing, isn’t it?
Jarul flowers @ Vikaspuri (AG-1)
And finally, here they are, those lovely Jarul flowers, resting in peace forever in my poems diary…