Mixed Fruity Jjaam

Mixed Fruity Jjaam

Mixed Fruity Jjaam 150 150 ComfortAid International
Destination Kargil
It has and is my priority to channel CAI funds to the most needy
areas of the world; have blogged about these countries extensively, Afghanistan
in particular, of course. Recently, I had the good fortune to visit Indian
Kargil and Srinagar, where CAI recently built a school for a very poor
community in Kargil and is aiding the construction of a girl’s orphanage in
Srinagar. I also met the thirty-seven orphan girls at the home CAI built in
Kargil several years ago. My, my, my babies have grown! I could hardly
recognize any of them, except a couple.
The trip was harsh indeed; I was trapped in a snow avalanche for
hours, a normal five-hour drive through spectacular and breathtaking but traitorous
mountains passes took fourteen, slept in a ‘five star’ hotel that rendered my
body with bloody bedbug rashes that I scratched like a rabid monkey and a groin
muscle-pull from jogging that had me in tears, literally.  All worth it of course, I am not complaining,
just giving you a penned picture. Better still; click here for some wonderful
photos of the adventure; worth several thousand words.
Mixed Fruity Jjaam
Aamir (name altered) is a middle-aged waiter at Ramee Guestline
Hotel at Juhu, my place of regular repose while in Mumbai. He greets me
profusely as soon as I walk in for breakfast, flicks a soiled rag to clear
invisible dust from a table and waves me to a chair and makes me comfortable.
Saheb, he says
genially, welcome back. Kaise ho? He
begins to fuss around, arranging immaculately placed cutlery around, pours me a
steaming cup of tea and wants to know what I will have this morning. Undde
Masaala omelet? Bhaaji poori? Oopma? Or masaala doosa? I
order the usual two fried eggs sunny-side-up and Aamir goes scurrying off to
the kitchen; I get sullen looks for this preferential treatment from others
still waiting to be served.
Aamir hails from Muzzafarnagar, a poorer area of UP, India. He
came to Mumbai when he was about twelve and has worked his way up from picking
food from garbage dumps to washing dishes in shabby restaurants to now being a
waiter at this hotel. His is one of millions that have gone the same route,
escaping grinding poverty in rural India, so why is Aamir worth a mention? Well,
he instantly reminds me of the waiter character with rabbit-like frontal teeth in
the Bollywood movie Cheeni Kum (watch
it if you haven’t already; well worth it). With me, he pronounces Mixed Fruit
Jam as Mixed Fruity Jjaam, with the same tone as the waiter in the movie
pronounces Hyderabaadi Zafaraani Biryaani to Amitabh Bachaan. I always laugh
when I hear him say it.
Aamir gives me the preferential treatment because I am the only
one who has taken the time to talk to him on a personal level and have taken an
interest in him and his wellbeing? Perhaps?
I eat the eggs with Aamir hovering around like a moth on a mission,
replacing my paper napkins every time I wipe my lips. It is useless stopping
the waste; he waves away my protests and grabs the napkin away from my hands
every time I touch my lips with it, so I try to minimize my etiquette. I finish
the eggs and Aamir is there with a fresh cup of steaming masala tea with two
slices of karaak brown bread
liberally spread with butter; just the way I like it. He splits open a mini
package of jam and raises bushy eyebrows.
Mixed Fruity Jjaam, Saheb?
I smile broadly and nod my head.
Gulaab, The Pampered Goat
Just outside Chaar Nal in Dongri, Mumbai, I notice a mini horse,
except it is a giant goat, about four feet tall. The animal belongs to the
owner of a medical store, who bought this Rajasthani animal when it was a few
months old and named it Gulaab (rose). Feeding it with lots of love, oats, badaam and quality vegetables, the goat
shot up both horizontally and vertically, and is now subject of much curiosity
and amusement to whoever comes across it the first time. And
so it is for me as well. Curious, I make inquiries and am introduced to the
owner, a hefty Miyabhai with a
handsome flowing all-white beard who views me with much suspicion when I
introduce myself and ask about his animal.
Why do
you want to know
? Asks Miyabhai, looking me up and down,
then anxiously peering outside the store at the tethered Gulaab, making sure I
had done it no harm. You are not Indian,
are you
? You want to buy him, don’t
you
? Miyabhai’s eyes take on a cunning look. He is not cheap, he has cost
me an arm and a leg. I feed him the best foods everyday…
A customer walks in but Miyabhai is in no
mood to serve him; he yells at his assistant to attend; I seem be a better monetary
prospect.
This
animal is prized,
continues Miyabhai, I tell you. He is gentle and loving, Why, I bring him for a nap every
afternoon and he rests his head on my very own lap
! Miyabhai slaps his ample
lap for emphasis. But I’ll sell it to you
for a modest Rupees 200,000 (about US$3,400); it’s a bargain…
I take a startled step back. No, no,
I say, I don’t want to purchase him, I
just was curious because of his size, I have never seen a goat this size before…
Miyabhai’s face darkens in ire. He grabs a
tuft of abundant beard and pulls at it in agitation. Aree Mister, then why did you come and disturb me? Bah, let me know if you are interested in
purchasing Gulaab, else be on your way
! He turns to his assistant and
grumbles. Fokaat ka aadmi, wasting my
time with silly questions. Bah
! The assistant grins toothily and eagerly
wags his head in blissful ignorance.

I am still curious what Miyabhai will
eventually do with Gulaab, except slaughter and eat it. But I fear for my
safety, so make a rapid retreat.

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