Potatoes and Ravi Bhaiyya

[Author's Note: This blog was originally written in Feb, 2010 on my tech blog by mistake and in the interest of consolidating my general blogs from the tech ones, I am migrating this here. ]

I was at the neighborhood NTUC and the wifey wanted to pick up potatoes. Now, every indian knows that potatoes are a key ingredient in Indian vegetarian cuisine and every time I make a visit to the vegetable store, potatoes are in the list, along with tomatoes and onions, of course. But to my surprise, there were no potatoes, not even one, zilch. That was an absolute shocker. As it is I have been cribbing about the potatoes being super costly in this Island, but not finding one was too much for me, and my wife's culinary future, which was now in uncertain land, to take. So, we threw caution to the winds, and our loyalty to NTUC up into smoke, and decided to hunt for potatoes elsewhere.

We finally found some not-so-good-looking-but-who-cares-for-vanity-in-an-emergency potatoes at a mom and pop store nearby and my wife's heart, which had stopped functioning the moment she saw the potato counter empty at the NTUC, started chirping away nice and easy.

But, once potatoes come into limelight, I have to relate the anecdote of a certain Ravi Bhaiyya. It was the year 1995, and I was still in high school when an unfortunate demise in the family had lead my parents to head to Chennai leaving me in Delhi. But they found Ravi Bhaiyya, who was brother of Omkar Bhaiyya, who was physiotherapist or Sharma Aunty, who was wife of Sharma Uncle, who was a long time friend and senior of my dad. Ravi Bhaiyya had just moved into the capital to pursue a career in theatre and he didn't mind baby sitting me for the time my parents were gone.

My parents assured me that Ravi Bhaiyya could cook and if I helped him out, things should be smooth sailing. Well, it wouldn't have been smooth had it not been for a tiny glitch - Ravi Bhaiyya COULD NOT cook any shit without potato. Seriously. He had to cut in, boil in or mash in potatoes into EVERY single edible thing he had ever created in the insides of anything resembling a kitchen. He could cook the potatoes with anything - tomatoes, onions, eggplant, cauliflower, cabbage and diversify the potatoes with dishes like Kashmiri Aloo, Dum Aloo, Dari wale Aloo and various other incarnations, but never without it. It got so bad that the neighborhood subziwala stopped selling us potatoes in the suspicion that we were hoarding them. Only our innocent faces and smiling demeanor prevented us from getting arrested.

And for somebody who was brought up on the concept of balanced diet and green vegetables and neo shit like that, I just couldn't take the potatoes. Thankfully, Ravi Bhaiyya had a great voice and he practiced his singing every now and then and his beautiful renditions of hindi songs of 60s and 70s, which I totally digged, smoothed me out. Else, I was gonna murder the dude, by stuffing his potatoes into his throat.

From Ravi Bhaiyya's favorite song:

Teri duniya se hoke mazboor chala
main bahut door bahut door bahut door chala 

ps: Ravi Bhaiyya finally succeeded to get into mainstream theatre by the time of our last meeting, which was many years ago, but we have, unfortunately enough, lost touch with each other since. If you happened to know a dude from Bhaliya, who could sing and act well, and could not cook without packing in a few pounds of potato, tell him to read this blog and leave a comment. :-)


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