The Capsicum Pakora
A brief sojourn of 26 hours, 30 minutes and may be 10 seconds in Kodaikanal more than convinced me that if there was a place on earth which could bestow on you the celestial bliss which is only available to the mortals in heaven, it is only the hilly resort where thousands throng every summer – what with the atmosphere, the picturesque background, the scenery that unfolds in front of you (which none dare miss capturing into perpetuity), the surrounding hills flowers of all kinds in full bloom, the lake with it’s placid waters, the neither-blue-nor-green, but both mixed colour all around, the boats, with the giggling children, the people attired in their fancy, I-want-everyone-look-at -me, clothes, with a riot of colours,, vendors on the roadside, beckoning you now here, now there……you see all around a foggy cloud, the kind of scene which you see in the movies when Gods and Goddesses are able to move as they wish, as though with invisible wheels attached to their feet, sailing smoothly in the wind; the sun playing truant occasionally, a sudden darkness descending, a surprising, though enjoyable sudden drizzle, a rainbow with all its vibrant colours inviting your attention, and for a moment I thought that I am being transported to the portals of heaven the same way. Not to speak of the several love-bitten couples, looking here, looking there, diverting your attention occasionally and making you envy them by their gestures and antics,….(mostly honey-mooningers) was a rare happening, conjuring upon you the vision of a world where happiness is writ large on every face that you see. No wonder, I leapt with joy myself, as if I am in a wonderland, where there is no room or occasion for worries of any kind.
There are so many things that you can notice and enjoy, that you would regret that oh, I didn’t turn that side at all. Apart from all that I mentioned above, on one side you can see an array of horses, all decorated and ready for the ride with you, particularly the kids.
Talking of the road-side vendors. lined up all your way, you see fancy dresses, bangles. toys and a host of eat-as-you-wander items of food – crisp ‘murukku’, fried pop-corns, channa and the fresh-from-the-frying pan, ‘mouth-watering ”bajji’ -made out out of besan flour and the longish mirth -without the sting of the usual mirch – the capsicum Pakora, or more popularly called mulagai bajji and, believe me, this and this was the one item which whetted my appetite throughout the fleeting sojourn in the ‘paradise on earth’. Wherever I moved, whatever I talked, I could not resist the temptation of having a try at it, each time I spotted the bajji.
And, even today, at the very thought of this, I wish I had wings to fly to that land to literally devour the entire stock available. Memories of this namkeen (and mircheen’) delicacy haunt me day in and day out. I have lost count of the stopovers I had at the bajji vendors eating, single, double and triple…….I thought that the vendor had virtually hypnotized me. Since I kept count of each and every item of my expense on this tour, I still do not venture to see the cost of my stay in Kodaikanal only on that count. Yes, I would visit Kodaikanal again, if only for eating those bajjis – the captivating Capsicum Pakora.
Feel like going to Kodaikanal? Go by all means, but no guarantee for the goodness of the bajjis that I had eaten, because the vendors would have changed, oil used could have changed, cost may have gone up – doubled or tripled and still you cannot come and say that the bajjis that you ate were of the same taste questioning me for all the praises I showered on the bajji. Because, my visit to Kodaikanal was years ago!
This article is a part of the book “74 Not Out and some cheeky singles” written by Shri C.V. Subramaniam. He retired as Director in the Department of Information Technology, GOI and has held several important positions in the Government including the Science Advisory Council to Prime Minister. He has published 70 plus articles in various leading news papers and has published a book on Human Resource Management.
Editor’s Note: Here is a nice video on Kodaikanal, Tamilnadu, the place where Shri.C.V.Subramaniam enjoyed eating the Capsicum Pakoras!