Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bread, Aristotle and local savouries

What I like most about Bombay is its ability to charm you when you're least expecting it. After a brief and predictably annoying Sunday-morning visit to Croma, the electronics chain run by the Tatas (company motto: "We will be rude AND charge higher prices, if you don't like it you can just get lost") I wandered over to my favourite bakery, Yazdani, nestled in a lane off Flora Fountain. I had always assumed it was closed on Sundays but this was the first time I thought to check -- and it was very much open. While buying my favourite seven-grain bread I overheard this fascinating conversation between three Parsis standing outside the shop. They were wearing traditional hats suggestive of a recent visit to the fire temple next door.

P1: Now tell me, when winter comes, why does it come all of a sudden on one particular day?
P2: Because that's when the sun, moon and earth are all in a straight line.
P3: No it's something else, I don't remember. But it was Aristotle who figured this out. Him, and all the ancient Greeks.
P2: Yes and he travelled all over the world to find out these things.
P1: I can bet you it wasn't Aristotle who travelled. He must have paid some poor mathematician to do the work for him.

Smiling to myself I wandered home with my precious beret-shaped seven-grain loaf. On reaching home I had the additional pleasing thought that I could (if I wished) buy a sextant, or astrolabe, or ancient wind-up gramophone, on the very road where I live. I don't expect to ever buy these things, but could I possibly adjust to living in a town (or area) where they aren't sold on every other street? I wonder.

My nephew Karun told me another story about a Parsi this morning. This one, let's call him P4, went to a movie theatre and demanded tickets for a recent Bollywood film called "Love, Sex aur Dhokha". Except that the confused Mr P4 thought the title was "Love, Sex aur Dhokla"! The staff at the ticket counter tried to explain his error but soon gave up and collapsed in splits.

I love this city.


Sukratu said...

For a long time after that film which
concerned your P4 was released, I kept
identifying the film very much in the
manner he did. Never actually bothered
to wonder what theme the erroneous semi-culinary title might suggest.

Sunil Mukhi said...

In the same spirit, a semi-culinary follow-up movie might be "Hum, Tum aur Gosht"! Strictly for non-vegetarians though...

Anonymous said...

To continue with the semi-culinary theme: I suppose it must all have begun with the unsurpassable "Chholay"! :-)