The deliciousness of a freshly made vada pav and the accompanying hot garlic chutney!                       

A young lady walked up to me at an HR conference once and shared the heartburn she faces every morning on leaving a clinging two and half year old behind, when she goes to work. She was nearly in tears, re-living her daughter’s distress while narrating the story. I wanted to console her, but what could I say?

It is a fact that parenting is a lifelong effort in learning to deal with the constant tugs at the heartstrings. You think you are done with all the disappointments and heartaches you had to have while you were growing up and from henceforth life would be an even keel. But no, once you have children, you get to live through them all over again, magnified and in cinemascope!

You feel the pain if your child’s friend ignores her or she doesn’t get into the particular college she wanted to so badly. It hurts you when your baby boy grazes his knee or when he moves away to hostel and is homesick.

Indeed when Sid went away to senior school, more than him, I think we were devastated at the sudden emptiness at home. Neither my husband nor I had ever imagined the huge hole one little person can make when he flies the nest.

Luckily the hostel was in Lonavala so we took to driving there every weekend morning and spending the day with him and his friends. Armed with goodies we would reach early every Saturday morning, and have a hungry horde of kids descend on us like locusts, and before we had even finished our first hugs, the food basket would be stripped bare. Amongst all the cakes and cookies and burgers, the one thing that appealed the most to all the kids was the vada pav that we would buy from the food court en-route. The hot and fresh vada pav and the delicious vada pav chutney that came with it was comfort food which assuaged to a large extent the homesickness that the children were going through. The dry garlic chutney which accompanied it, with its pungent flavour, the hot vada oozing with mashed potato masala and the soft fluffy pav, came together in a seamless and well-orchestrated symphony of divine taste on the cold and rainy Lonavla mornings, out on the grass in the school grounds.

We enjoyed it as much as the kids did, and the memory of those Saturday drives to and from Lonavla and the time we spent with Sid are inextricably linked with those hot delicious vada pavs served with dry garlic chutney. And indeed aren’t so many of our memories linked with food so very often?  The taste and flavour of our grand-moms’ halwa, the hot phulka with that dollop of ghee made by our mothers, and the khichdi or chicken soup eaten sitting up in bed when we were ill, rustled up by the cook who has been with family longer than we have been part of it. In a hurried, chaotic world it is often food that becomes a binding force as well as a trigger for happy memories to rush back to your mind, and whenever I bite into a freshly made hot vada pav, that’s exactly what happens to me!

 Author: Apurva Purohit, Co-Founder | Aazol