Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fast food in Faizabad

4th September, 2013

The air-conditioner has been gurgling and whining since last night, interspersed with bouts of hissing when it actually works. The voltage fluctuates constantly in this hotel – I suppose it is the same all over the town or maybe all over the state. Anil informed me that in his village which is about 3 kilometers from Faizabad, the power situation is vastly improved now, and they get power 7 hours a day.

My tacky hotel room with a large hole in the air-conditioner.
So the night has been spent alternately sweating it out in the humid air (the fan stops too, when the voltage drops) while listening to the assorted noises in the room, and sleeping fitfully when the voltage is better. But at least there was no power cut. I think the hotel has a generator that it uses during scheduled power cuts.

This hotel with its four floors is perhaps the tallest building in the newer part of this green, fairly clean town of Faizabad. Nearly  half the town is the cantonment area (Cobra training centre, I read on my way to the Guptar Ghat two days ago).  Another large part is taken up by Government offices and homes for the bureaucrats as this is not only the district headquarters but also the divisional headquarters. The large central market area is busy and brightly lit, with fairly broad streets, but no chaotic traffic. The town was most prosperous during the reign of Shuja-Ud-Daula, the third Nawab of Awadh (Faizabad was the capital city of the Awadh empire). There are some beautiful monuments that I did not get time to visit. This part of town has small houses, with a mixed community of Hindus and Muslims, all living together in harmony. They are quite fed up with the issue of the temple at Ayodhya, and want only to be left in peace.

Anil insists on treating us last evening to pakodas as we pass through Gosaiganj, a busy market town a few kilometers away from Faizabad town. We eat potato, brinjal and onion pakodas served piping hot with a green radish chutney in a leaf plate. In spite of the hot and humid weather, we enjoy the spicy snacks as we drive back from the training centre at Chachikpur village. A short distance later, he stops and tempts us again with hot corn on the cob – and who can resist that? After that, Tasneem and I are just too full to try anything else. Ok, we’ll have satalla tomorrow, he says as he drops us back at the hotel. He keeps his word – we stop at Gosaiganj again today, and he dashes across the busy road to get us bowls of satalla  - a spicy mix of  pakoda and chaat that stings and brings the tears to your eyes. Tasneem  has hers with a sweet chutney. I promise myself no more snacks as I need have a proper dinner tonight at least, having skipped it yesterday after all the snacking on the way back.

Anil in the Faizabad market, tempting us with dahi batasha and tikki.
But Anil is not through yet. He drives straight into the market place of Faizabad and says we just cannot pass up the chaat at a special stall there. Out he gets, and first brings up bowls full of golgappa filled with yoghurt and spices (which he calls dahi batasha). And tops it up with a around of tikki garnished with spicy chutneys. I have both these snacks, conveniently ignoring my promise to myself a few minutes ago. Sated and happy, we get back to the hotel after a long day at work, and a happy hour eating snacks.

Tomorrow Anil leaves for Benares for some other work. His parting words to me are of regret: You are not coming to Benares, he says, you will miss the special chai that is available at a particular dhaba on the way.

1 comment:

  1. The way you have spoken about the foods, makes me go drooling. I loved the way you write Ramani. Hope to read more from you.