As soon as the bus halts at my stop, I find myself rushing to cross the road. Forgetting my fear of crossing roads. Rushing like a mad woman to climb the three tiny steps and stand next to this jolly man with his hair parted in the centre. Just this. The man with the magical stall of wonder. My Pani Puri walla.
He nods his greeting and silently thrusts a small bowl made out of dried leaves in my hand. He puts on his gloves, takes a puri from the stacked heap, cracks it open, fills it with masala aloo, dips it in the spicy tangy paani and places it gently on my bowl.
The first Puri, when it touches my tongue and cracks open in my mouth, the flavours explode! Melting away all the frustration and stress of the day. I feel comforted. Sometimes, this spicy beauty soothes my soul better than the saccharin words of my dearest friend.
The flavour brings out the vivid colours of the darkening night skies, and as it starts refreshing my soul I can finally hear things around me. Till then it’s just my Pani Puri walla filling my bowl with my beloved street food, comforting me silently, without understanding the chaos in my mind.
By the end of maybe ‘one plate’ or even two, I don’t even feel guilty about my indulgence.
Rather, I feel happy. Content. Comforted.