‘Market Building’ I said as the Autowala looked at me from the rear mirror. The guy sitting next to me in the rickshaw was engrossed texting on his mobile phone, a new one I suppose since the plastic sheet was still intact on the screen. He was sandwiched between me and a college going girl. I stole glances to check out this college chick. Her neatly pedicure and painted nails matched the shade of her lipstick. She wore a lot of junk accessories that pretty well went with her dress ……. But those looked heavier than the books she carried in her bag ! I recollected my yester years as a college student with my neatly oiled and parted hair, courtesy mom (which of course I hated) and practical notes and books that left me sweating.
After checking out my fellow passengers, it was time to check out the life size hoardings of new malls and shops that had mushroomed all over the city . I peeped out of the rickshaw to catch glimpses of some new retail outlets. ‘Auto wale Bhaiya stop’,Ms college girl said in a shrill voice patting on the shoulder of the rickshawwala and handed over a five rupee coin to him. The ‘Autowala Bhaiya’ abided and stopped with a jerk. He grinned at the girl showing his ‘paan’ stained teeth as we rolled away. I was busy looking out trying to catch every glimpse of this ‘Old Town’, where I grew up ……… which all of a sudden looked so new to me !! Tall multistoried malls had taken over the small shops where I usually came with my parents for shopping. The cityscape had changed beyond my imagination …… and I was not very elated seeing those ‘developments’. I was unable to fit myself to this change so quickly. The rickshaw driver turned to me and said ‘Last Stop aa gaya ……. Market Building’. I paid him and walked slowly towards this shopping arcade, the oldest in town.
I was suddenly elated to see that time stood still here. The old paint was falling off the walls of the old but faithful building, there were also some small trees and grasses which had grown over the building. Stray dogs wandered in the by lanes around the carts that sold street food. Young girls and women gathered around the paani puri/golgapa and chaat walas to satisfy their hunger pangs in between their shopping spree. I stuffed myself with some pani puri’s before walking into the glittering lanes of saree and bangle shops. I was glad that the taste of the pani puri had not changed much over these years, except that the carts looked more hygienic and that they used bottled water for the ‘paani’, which came for a price !!
I vanished into one of the oldest lanes that sold sarees ……… My eyes were dazzled by the mirror, stone and glitter work heavy sarees displayed all over the places. They sparked like a million stars under the halogen lights. I could recollect some familiar faces as I passed by these shops. Unaware and confused of what I wanted to buy I walked into one of the oldest saree shops. I know it is not a matter of pride but my knowledge of sarees is pretty limited. To add to my woes and confusion, the sales guy flooded me with an ocean of sparkling sarees, they all looked the same to me ……..And all I could understand was ‘Parvati Saree’ …….. something something then ‘Tulsi Saree’ …………. something something , ‘Balika Vadhu Saree’ ………. something something. I scratched my head and concluded that shopping for sarees all by my own was not my cup of tea. I thanked the sales guy for all his effort and felt sorry for him at the same time for his painstaking effort of convincing an ignorant customer like me.
A fat middle aged aunty sitting at the next counter insisted on a ‘Mera wala blue’ saree. I smiled at a young girl who was draping a beautiful ‘Parvati Saree’ as I walked out of the shop. Once again I vanished into the by lanes ……… lost in some old memories and the glitterati.
Serves – 5
Preparation Time 30 minutes
IngredientsButternut Squash – 1 medium size
Rosemary – few
Powdered Cinnamon – 1/3 tsp
Minced Garlic – 2 tsp
Minced Ginger – 1 tsp
Finely Chopped Onion – 1 cup
Butter/ Any cooking oil – 2 tbsp
Heavy Cream – 1tsp for each soup bowl
Water – 2 cups
Olive Oil for drizzling
Salt per taste
Fresh cracked Pepper per taste
Method of Preparation
1.Cut the butternut squash and put it on a baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil, salt, fresh cracked pepper. Add strings of rosemary. Bake at 350 degrees F for approx 15- 20 minutes or till soft and baked. Remove and let it cool. Remove the rosemary and mash the baked butternut squash.
2.In a pan, add 1 tbsp butter and let it melt. Add minced garlic and ginger and sauté it for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn soft and translucent and there is no raw flavor. Add salt per taste if needed3.Add the mashed baked butternut squash to the onions. To that add the powdered cinnamon. Stir in all the ingredients well. Add water and keep stirring making sure that the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
4.Cool this mixture and puree it in a food processor
5.Add the remaining butter to the pan and add the puree and let it simmer for a minute
Serve in Soup Bowls in generous portion and add some heavy cream on top. Eat with bread sticks.