Sundar Salmon Narayanan...
My visit to Varanasi aka Banaras for a few days made me realize why Salmon get so much hype when they swim upstream to visit their birthplace!
Twenty two years since I first set foot in Banaras as a kid who had not yet sprouted a moustache, it was a wonderful experience to just go stand in the place where I spent most of my happy times..
No, not the Department of Metallurgical engineering (which gets a 2nd place) or my hostels but the chai shop that made me want to wake up on many winter mornings and may have been the single motivating factor for going anywhere outside the hostel on hot summer days!
The highlight of this India trip was two days in Varanasi and one day in Allahabad. The rest of the trip was a little on the dark and gloomy side what with us coming to grips with "Chennai becoming a large scale old age home", not my words but my mothers!
Back to lighter subjects... Chai!
Jr. was the only one brave enough in the family to volunteer to take the EOS 5D and shoot this picture. Gave her a crash course in holding a heavy camera so we could get this moment saved for the blog.
There were changes. The son runs the shop now after 20+ years. We used to see him as a small boy running around the shop. Missed the old mans smiling face, but the young Bihari is a replica of the father. He even spoke through gritted teeth with his paan filled mouth and said "photo keechna hai to keechiye saab!". He must be used to it with all the alumni coming to relive their chai drinking days!
His dad used to make special "tulsi" chai for me when I would come wheezing into his shop on some winter days and give me advice on how to deal with breathing problems.
Today, the gutter that runs between the shop and the place where we eat still flows like a mini ganges. Prices are in line with inflation. Probably the only thing that was inline in the trip. A chai used to be 75 paise and a samosa 1 rupee. Today the Chai was 3 rupees (4x) and the samosa 5 rupees (5x). Prices double every 10 years at 5% inflation and in quadruple every 4 years. We might as well graph inflation with the Bihari Chai price index!
While the price and the generation have changed, the taste of the Chai and the samosa have not changed a bit.
More on my eating and drinking nostalgia binge tomorrow..
ps. Never missed a certain Durgaprasad Rajaram more than those few minutes at that tea shop.