Massala Dosa, Rajneesh and Charminar Cigarettes
I love Massala Dosa; the flavor of Massala Dosa still lingers in my mouth. every time I went out to eat, I ordered Massala Dosa; the crisp golden brown paper thin buttery taste pan-cake like out layer wrapped around spicy potato curry with coconut chutney on the side, it was so mouth-watering and delicious, sometimes I ate two in one sitting and that’s a complete meal with cup of sweet milky south Indian strong coffee,” the old man was licking his lips while describing his passion for Massala Dosa when he worked in Bangalore, India three decades ago. Now retired and working as a part-time realtor on the Big Island.
“How about idly and Sambar?” asked Juggernaut not to distract the old man from the subject away from the South Indian dishes.
“I didn’t care for Idly, it was bland but I love Sambar, the spicy split pea stew; a side dish that comes with Idly. I practically drank the Sambar with bits of okra, white radish and drum sticks from the small serving cup, I always requested to give me in a large mug and I drank straight from it,” the old man’s eyes popped up just talking about spicy South Indian dishes. “After living in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, I couldn’t return to Michigan so I came straight to the Big Island” the realtor was more than happy to share his experiences living in India. “My wife learned some Indian cooking while in India and now she cooks curry here once in a while. I am sorry I could not be helpful in finding a place to rent but certainly we had a nice chat on South Indian dishes,” the realtor was happy to share his experiences living in South India.
“That’s OK, it is good to know that we both share the taste for South Indian quintessential dishes Massala Dosa and Sambar,” Juggernaut was happy to meet the old man Wallace, the realtor with passion for Dosa and sambar.
Some of the mainlanders settled on the Big Island travelled extensively throughout the world particularly tropics before they found Hawaii as a final destination to live.
“I stayed three years at Rajneesh ashram in late 80’s in India, you know,” the woman was in late sixties had difficulty walking, she considers sitting in hot pond on occasions as therapeutic for her bad legs.
“So you met Rajneesh.”
“No, very few met Rajneesh at the ashram, he kept to himself, his disciples ran the ashram, what I didn’t like it there was over-cooked veggies all mashed up. I lost all minerals in my body during my stay in India and took good 3 years to recover on returning to Utah,” the woman spoke with pleasant smile.
“With all that meditation and yoga, Rajneesh died early.” Juggernaut expressed doubt.
“Well it was rumored that he was poisoned,” the woman gave a suspicious look.
“How and by whom?” Juggernaut expressed shock.
“It was one of those conspiracy theories; some say he was exposed to some kind of radiation in America that slowly killed him after returning to India and some say he died from eating poisoned food, we don’t know the truth but everybody believes that he was poisoned somehow,” The woman talked more about bad food at the ashram than on Rajneesh’s teachings. Perhaps, he never taught anything at the end of his life. But she was happy on the Big Island after living in Thailand and Goa for several years. “I will go to any country where I can stretch my American dollar you know, many poor older Americans now live in countries where living is cheap. “
“You can go to South America to live; living there could be cheaper than here.”
“No, I would rather go to Vietnam or Thailand to live; I love Asian culture and people there,” she said dragging her bad feet slowly.
“Man, I love Charminar cigarettes, I had a blast living in Hyderabad in early 90’s, I visited often to recruit IT personnel from India and I loved the spicy Hyderabad mutton biriyani washed down with Indian beer and smoking Charminar cigarettes, it has a very strong flavor, I still miss those cigarettes,” lamented the man working at an office center on the island. “Once I was in a cab in the old city that got into an accident, the driver shouted at me to get out and run; boy I ran. I never get it why he asked me to run after all It was not my fault and I was not driving,” the man still looked puzzled over the incident that took two decades ago.
“I would say the driver gave you good advice to run for your life otherwise the mob would get you for shake-down for lot of money or worse physically assault you,” Juggernaut tried to explain.
“How about cops?”
“It all justice at the street level, the crowd will settle the issue right there at the spot, the site of the accident on the road, either you run or face physical assault and shelling out lots of money as compensation; no cops and no court, it is all street justice, I am glad you got away.”
“Yes, I did got away running like hell and then bought myself a pack of Charminar cigarettes to calm myself, never forget that incident,” the man lighted up L&M cigarette.
“So, now you smoke L&M?”
“It is cheap but hard on my lungs, I still love Charminar, cheap and best brand among I tried,” Joe took a deep drag and let it out probably thinking about his marathon in the old city of Hyderabad to get away from the angry street crowd.
The legacy of Rajneesh was short lived but the aroma of Massala Dosa and Spicy Sambar still spanning the globe and lingers in the mind of curry lovers worldwide.