My mother was born in Delhi and grew up in Chandani Chowk, as kids as long as my naani (maternal grandmother) was alive our summer holidays were spent in her small but warm house. Maa would religiously take my brother and me to her favourite eating joints so we could eat things that were not available in Bombay. Sadly at that time, it was hard to understand why we were dragged along to these crowded places to eat the weird things she loved. Stuck between grown-ups, craning our tiny bodies trying to look up it was not an experience we enjoyed and we always whined and moaned, mumma Ghar jana Hai (mom we want to go home).
But few weeks ago as I embarked on this food walk with a friend around this birth place of my Maa It suddenly struck me that she missed home, she missed the warmth of her childhood memories after she married and moved to Mumbai. And taking her children along in the bustling, busy markets was her way to relive the days she had left behind as a young woman all of 21 married to a man she had only met once. Her most favourite haunt was “Natraj ke Dahi Bhalle” which she recollected after I showed her this picture. In the searing burning heat of Delhi, she and her friends would pool in their almost non-existent pocket monies and once a week gorge on the Dahi Bhalle on the way back from school. Thoroughly soaked in a bowl of curd these deep fried lentil balls topped with a delicious spice mix and Tamarind chutney was a treat they looked forward to. And as I stood there tucking into this bowl of chilled sweet goodness, in a place jostling with more bodies than it can hold, with no space to move, I remembered that young woman who stood there with her school friends giggling away.