It was September 4. I was experiencing the Bombay rains after two years of having lived away from my beloved city.

For reasons unbeknownst, I had decided to go to work. A journey of 40 minutes from my house had taken three hours. “Mumbai Darshan hogaya yeh toh”, my cabbie had joked. The return was more adventurous. Finding streets not waterlogged and flyovers not packed with stationary cars, my taxi finally reached a junction four kilometers away from my house. And then we were stuck. Bonnet touching bonnet, vehicles stood still. Nobody honking, nobody cursing, just waiting.

After half an hour of staring at the vehicles around me, I decided to walk home. Half an hour into walking, my lazy self who doesn’t walk even to the local grocery, gave up. It let out a huge growl, which if not for the rains, could shake the pillars of the monorail above me.

And right there, I saw you.

Chopping onions, arranging sev and mixing the ragda. Like a multitasking God.

You smiled at me. I smiled at you.

I walked over to you. No words were exchanged.

A plate was handed over. I said, “medium. Teekha thoda zyada”

You nodded like you knew.

You adjusted the huge rainbow umbrella to protect me from the rains. I smiled.

And I had two plates of piping hot Panipuri.

I paid you and adjusted my bag to brace the rains again. When you said the magic words, “Madam Sukha puri lelo”


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