It's all about living in the present & enjoying sev puri. Raju's Pali Hill bhel cart

Raju gets the bhel and sev puri ready at his stall


It was a bit cloudy last evening in Mumbai and the weather was nice and cool. I was at Pali Hill in Bandra with some friends and it seemed like we were at Lonavla, the local hill station.

Just as we were about to head home we saw Raju at his bhel puri cart and decided to stop for some bhel and sev. Raju's late father had come to Mumbai from UP and set up the stall in 1951. Raju joined his dad in 2000 and continues his father's legacy after his father passed away recently.

Bandra's Pali Hill is a super posh locality. Come evening and you will find a line of fancy cars parked by Raju's stall in the evening with people getting off to have bhel and sev, the popular Mumbai street food snacks. Raju proudly says that he uses filtered water for his dishes. Given how well heeled the crowd here is, he has to! This is the sort of crowd who would rarely eat street food in Mumbai because of hygiene worries. Mohit, my banker friend who was with me last evening, said he has often eaten at Raju's and has never fallen ill. 

We had bhel and sev puri yesterday. They cost Rs 30 a plate. His bhel and sev are not too sweet, unlike what is served many other bhel-walas in Mumbai allegedly to appease to the sweet palates of Gujaratis. Raju will adjust teekha (spice and heat) levels according to your taste.

I remembered our bhel and sev from last evening at Raju's when I saw my friend Julia Edwards's Facebook update this morning. She used to live in Bandra for a while and wrote a popular expat blog called Bombay Jules before returning with her husband to the UK. She tells me that England seems to be too boring to blog about now after Mumbai.

Julia posted a picture today about the dosa and sev puri that she had at a restaurant called Jamuna in Bath. I congratulated her on finding what looked like some good Indian food.

The post that started off this post


She replied saying that what she ate at Bath wouldn't be as good as the picture of the bhel and sev that I had put up from Raju's on Facebook.

I told Julia that it doesn't matter. The main thing is to enjoy the present.

I feel that we often get caught up in nostalgia or elusive dreams and don't savour the present enough. 

Take my example as a Bengali, former Kolkatan, in Mumbai. I know that there are people who say that the sweets at Sweet Bengal here don't match that Nakur, KC Das, Bancharam etc in Kolkata. Fair enough, but I live in Mumbai now and I am just happy to get good Bengali sweets here at the other end of the country. There are that say that the rolls in Hangla (now shut alas at Bandra) are a lot more expensive than Nizam's in Kolkata. Well, did you factor in the cost of air fare and time it will take me to go to Kolkata to have a roll?  Not that I am Richard Gere in Pretty Woman who could fly down down to another city for a meal and an opera in the evening with Julia Roberts to another city and come back before going to bed .

The other trap is nostalgia. Whenever you mention a classic eatery or dish, people will say 'oh but the food was so much better there in the past. Standards have dropped you know'. Some said it about Raju's  bhel too when I put up the picture on Instagram (Please follow me here https://www.instagram.com/thefinelychopped/) . That his dad made better stuff.

Well I wasn't born in 1951 and the truth is that I really enjoyed the bhel and sev that I had yesterday so that's cool with me.

Another thing that I have noticed that whenever one mentions that one has eaten in a popular place like - Tunday, Kareems, Koshys, Brittos etc - while travelling and feels happy about it, there will be the wise ones who will come and tell you 'oh, that's touristy, you should have eaten at ABC where locals eat'.

I admit that I would be one of those food snobs to troll you if you say you came to Mumbai and ate at Bade Miya and felt kicked about it.

The truth is that if you have gone somewhere and eaten at X, there will be someone to tell you that Y is better. So don't stress about it. Live in the present.

Since I am being a bit philosophical on a Sunday evening, let me quote Dr Daisaku Ikeda, president of Saka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist organisation, on living in the present.

"It is what we do in the present moment that decides our future; our past causes do not govern our future as well. Nichiren Buddhism emphasizes that no matter what kind of karmic causes we have made in the past, through the causes we make in the present we can achieve a brilliant future."

So the lesson I am taking out of this is that I am going to stop getting all melancholy about not getting my favourite Kolkata phuchkas here and instead learn to appreciate and treasure the sev puris of Mumbai instead.

And I do hope Juia will start blogging about her life in the UK.

Raju mans his stall from 4.30 pm to 9 pm and his car is beside Hill and Sea and opposite Sea Queen or Princess at the start of Bandra's Pali Hill
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