July 22, 2009

25 paise, 5 lights

Friend in Bombay said, "You're driving to Delhi? Thru Rajasthan? You hafta stop in Nasirabad!"

OK, why Nasirabad?

"The kachora there, dude! Famous stuff!" Looked at us like he might have been recommending the world's finest caviar. Which, maybe he was.

So when we're rolling through Rajasthan some days later, we peel off the highway and into Nasirabad, looking for the establishment he had suggested, Twenty-Five Paise Red Halwai.

I'm sorry, I mean Chavannilal Halwai.

When we find the place, it's on one of those crowded small-town market streets where you can't drive because of the people and the fruit and the cattle and the vendors and the haphazardly parked vehicles of every denomination. What I'm saying is, just being on that street is a visual delight.

I drink it all in as I stand outside the shop, waiting for the chef inside Chavannilal to finish the next batch of kachora. Waiting too are about two dozen others, some of whose parked vehicles of every denomination are generous contributors to the chaos around us. The street address for where we stand is "Paanch Batti Chauraha" (Five Lights Four-Way Intersection). To my satisfaction, there is actually a tall pole at the junction, with four street lights in the four cardinal directions and a globe on top.

Five Lights, entirely as advertised.

Across the street, a man is getting a haircut. Viewed from across the pandemonium, he makes an oddly peaceful sight. Directly above the haircut shop is this sign: "Pulkit Garg, Advocate, BSc LLB DLL, Rajasthan High Court".

A haircut for you, sir, while we ponder your specific legal mess? Sure, why not. And the kachora? It is hot and fiery and we call our friend on the spot to say, it's just great!