A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

The tale of the vada pav

Posted by Pepper on January 14, 2013

You know, those days on which you wake up craving for something out of the blue?  I was having one of those days. I woke up wanting to eat a vada pav. Not just any vada pav. I wanted to eat a vada pav from Jumbo King. The spicy, buttery one.  I was desperate. I couldn’t wait.

It took every ounce of my will power to stop drooling and to convince myself to wait till evening. I kept telling myself I would get by the day. I had to go somewhere in the evening. I would be using the train. Jumbo King had an outlet near the station. I would surely stop by and pick up the object of my desire.

Evening came. I was on my way to attaining bliss, in the form of a spicy vada pav. As I walked into the store, I could smell the pungent flavours lingering in the air. I placed my order. The waiting seemed unbearable. And then, it came to me. It was placed in a brown paper bag. I thanked him and left.

Should I eat it now, while walking towards the railway platform? Or shall I get into the train, find a seat and then enjoy it? Although every fibre in my body was dying to get a taste of the food I had been dreaming about all day, I decided to push myself some more. I told myself there would be no joy in eating it while walking. I must sit, and I must relish it.

So I held on and walked ahead. The platform was crowded, as usual. Just as I was feeling the warmth of the packet I was holding, I saw a grubby hand tapping my waist. She was a young girl with sun bleached hair, a grime layered body and piercing eyes. She pointed at the packet of vada pav I was holding. Then patted her belly and fed herself some imaginary food. Then she pointed at the vada pav again. She wanted it.

I paused. Under normal circumstances, I would have handed it to her without a second thought. But this time, it felt like my soul hungered for the food she was asking for. The desire in me to eat it was intense. I was craving the first taste. I didn’t have time to go and buy another one. What should I do? She jerked me out of my reverie with a ‘do na‘.

I realised I wouldn’t be able to eat it after denying it to her. There was no point in not giving it to her. So I smiled and handed over to her my heart’s desire. She grabbed it out of my hand and walked ahead.

My eyes followed her. Just a few feet away and I saw her approaching other passengers who were waiting for the train to arrive. ‘vada pav lena hai? dus rupay ka hai‘. It translates to ‘Do you want to buy a vada pav? It is for Rs. 10’

My jaw dropped. She was selling it?  She wanted money and not the food? I could have as well given her some money and saved my precious vada pav for myself. I felt cheated and angry. And stupid. I should have realised this on my own. I should have assessed her needs better.I should have known.


23 Responses to “The tale of the vada pav”

  1. vethal said

    boy!! too much. this is India !

  2. Tanishka said

    Its not your fault peppy… Sometimes they make such a face that you just can’t deny them but we can’t be sure of what do they do once they are gone…

  3. Shucks !!! Unbelievable……….. And again on second thoughts, anything is possible. Still, it is unfair that you didn’t get to bite into the Vada pav after all 😦 She didn’t ask you for money coz most of us look like the ‘types’ that don’t encourage beggars. But saying no to a hungry person? heck! it takes a monster to do that.

  4. Ayyo. That was a sad ending.. 😦
    Hope you got to go back and dig a big bite into what you craved for Pepper,

    BTW, this particular post – try and send it to a newspaper as a short story, will ya? It just has to be published some place. It has to be 🙂

  5. shaktii said

    omg..cheater girl.. India has more % of these sort..we shd be aware always

  6. I never expected the twist in the tale, not sure who would get those money end of the day.

  7. R's Mom said

    Darn! that makes me feel so bad 😦

    I guess sometimes, we just dont understand what is going on in their minds…infact RD always makes it a point not to give them money..he takes them to the nearest food place and gives them food..but thats what you did..and see what happened 😦

  8. I did not expect this. Shocking!!

  9. Ashwathy said

    Sigh…. Why am I not surprised?

    Something similar happened to me. This was during my Bandra days. I had gotten out of a shop carrying some groceries when a kid of maybe 7-8 yrs started following me saying “didi ek ice-cream de do na” while pointing to the nearby ice-cream shop. Meaning he wanted me to buy him one. I was torn between wanting to say no and wanting to buy him the same (its just one icecream, what harm can it do?). In the end I took a quick decision and left without giving him anything. Got into my cab and was returning home. The cab driver had been parked there all along and watching this scenario unfold.

    Then on the way home I felt guilt pricking my conscience. I muttered half to myself and half to the driver that even one icrecream still encourages begging and getting food for free (or something to that effect). The driver laughed and said: “madam, aap ne dekha nahi tha lekin maine dekha. us ladke ne ek sharth lagaya tha uske dosth ke saath. meri gaadi ke saamne kiya. ki aapse paisa nikalvake woh icecream kharidiga. lagta bet mein har gaya.”

    I stared at him in shock. 😐 And this coming from a kid.
    I guess from street kids there is no point expecting innocence beyond toddlerhood (if there is such a word).

  10. Oh! X-( quite a bad moment that. Especially when you gave up something that you were so badly craving for.

  11. Smita said

    Now I won’t say what I was planning to say…especially after reading the end! Nah!

  12. metherebel said

    Oh God…you crave for a vada pav, get yourself one…only to lose it! The girl should have asked for money instead of taking vada pava and selling it.

  13. Awwww, I can totally feel what you would have felt. 😦

  14. Swaram said

    😐 Hugs!

  15. yaadayaada said

    You write so well! You got me craving for vada pav now!!

  16. Jazz said

    Gosh !! It is ok Pepper, you meant well.

  17. aww..shit of course u felt cheated
    i know that mindless craving you have sometimes..I think i will have to go get myself vada pav today.. my mouth is already watering

  18. mythalez said

    Maybe you should have walked up to her, paid her the 10 Rs and bought back your vada pav 😉

  19. diatriblog said

    All I can see in this post are the words “vada pav”. Everything else is a blur to me. Your description almost makes me taste it 😦

  20. eschris said

    Both of you are not wrong. You did what you thought was right, and she did what she thought was. For people like us, it is all said and done – an object of luxury, a craving for taste. For them, it is a question of filling their bellies, and in her case, maybe 2 or 3 ones. We can raise slogans when a politician cites 32 Rs/day for BPL families, but sadly, is a hard fact of life. Thought provoking post.

    • Pepper said

      Oh well. I don’t know what you are saying. I will accept, a vada pav costing Rs 20 is not considered as ‘luxury’ for me. But this was not about the cost. I could have given her the money she wanted, instead of parting with my food. She didn’t want that anyway.

  21. Reema said

    These street kids are way more smarter than us which is sad that they have lost their innocence.

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