I have just returned from Mumbai. It is peak Monsoon season. The heavens have opened up, and the city is dripping wet.
When my plane landed in Mumbai, the sky was clear. My brother, who lives in the city, came to receive me, along with his merry family. Throughout our ride to his place, we made excited plans for the evening. After my favorite homemade meal of lentils and rice, I would catch some sleep, then we would go for a movie, followed by dinner at a high-end Thai restaurant.
Things went according to plan for a while. I ate, and slept, only to be woken up by what sounded like a waterfall. I gazed out of the window and saw that it was pouring. Hard. Which meant we needed to rethink our plans, because cars cannot fare in that kind of weather.
So, we put on some music and opened a bottle of wine. After a few sips, we decided to match steps with the monsoon mood, and danced. The small but formal living room was transformed into a space filled with laughter, smiles and the sound of tapping feet.
Hunger pangs hit.
So we simply parted the heavy curtain of rain, grabbed a couple of umbrellas, and sprinted down the street. ”There’s a small eatery less than a block away,” my brother shouted above the sound of falling water. “Very basic, though.” I caught the note of apology in his voice.
We scrambled into the eatery, and settled down on the simple plastic chairs. The lone idling waiter swung into action. He disappeared into the kitchen, and emerged with cups of hot, milky chai. It had been a low-business evening for the eatery, so they had not cooked much. “But don’t worry,” said the resourceful young chap. “I shall ask the cook to fix something quick.”
Moments later, we were munching on hot, spicy, pakoras (fritters) starring potatoes and onions. To make these, the vegetables are cut into thin rounds, dipped in chickpea batter and deep fried. They are then spiced with a special masala that contains rock salt, dried mango powder and cayenne pepper.
We ate until the cook ran out of batter for pakoras and milk for the chai. And finally, satisfied right down to our soaked boots and our souls, we walked back home. By now, the rain had thinned down, and only a polite drizzle fell.
I shall never forget that meal. It was more fulfilling than any five-star meal we could have had. That evening turned out to be a fresh reminder for me and my family that it is the simple things that really matter: togetherness, spontaneity, simplicity. Bring them together under the umbrella of Nature, and you have Happiness!