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Samosas Fried in Mustard Oil (standard:humor, 950 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Nov 03 2010Views/Reads: 1705/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A funny story on a snack that is fried in mustard oil

Samosas Fried in Mustard Oil 


Subba Rao 

Banaras also known as Varanasi or Kasi is a holy place to Hindus, one of
the ancient cities located on the banks of river Ganges. It is a belief 
that cremating one's body on the river banks and later immersion of the 
ashes into Ganges is a sure way to the salvation. People living faraway 
distances carry ashes from cremation of their loved ones to Banaras to 
immerse in the river Ganges. 

Some people in their old age make Banaras their home, hoping cremation
of their body on the banks of river Ganges would facilitate their Atman 
or spirit to rest in peace for ever. These old folks live near the 
Ghats or river banks connected to a network of very narrow streets in 
the old city near the famous Viswanath temple. 

Juggernaut was enrolled at country's oldest university in Banaras to
pursue graduate studies. It was one of his dream travel/education 
adventures, inspired by reading railway guides from his father's book 
collection. Juggernaut has no contacts at all either at the university 
campus or in town, and couldn't speak Hindi, the local language. But, 
he was ready and excited to experience the unfamiliar place. The only 
connection he had with Banaras was, in early nineteen hundreds, 
Juggernaut's paternal grandfather made living by accompanying pilgrims 
from south India to Banaras for a fee (like present day tour operator). 
A long trip on bullock drawn carts, sometimes on foot and other means 
that took months through jungles and areas unfamiliar to folks living 
in Deep South. Juggernaut learnt very little from his grandmother about 
his grandfather except she accompanied him ones or twice on the 
pilgrimage to Banaras and spent some time there in an area exclusively 
people from South lived around a particular Ghat. Juggernaut's 
grandfather died long ago, in fact he died in his forty's from an 
infectious disease. 

On arriving in Banaras, Juggernaut stayed in a small motel in the old
city near the temple. On the way to the university next day, Juggernaut 
took a ride on a rickshaw. Pungent smells of frying oil emanating from 
roadside vendors preparing breakfast and other snacks permeated the 
streets. Suddenly, the rickshaw stopped and a young woman jumped into 
the rickshaw. The woman didn't say one word through the entire ride to 
the campus, on reaching the campus; she paid her share of the fare to 
the rickshaw puller and walked away. All along, Juggernaut was sitting 
in silent wondering who this girl was and why the rickshaw puller 
allowed her to share the ride without asking for his consent. Later he 
learnt that it was a common practice to share a ride to the campus from 
the city center. 

With little understanding and totally incapable of speaking Hindi,
Juggernaut spent the next few days to find a room at the university 
dorms. The next thing on his mind was to find the area around the river 
Ghats where her grandmother mentioned about an exclusive area where old 
folks from South India live. This was the areas where Juggernaut 
believed that his grandfather stayed intermittently in early 1900 with 
pilgrims from south India. 

Riding a bicycle, Juggernaut ventured into the ghat area known for
inhabitants from South India. The street was narrow perhaps 10 feet 
wide with dilapidated homes on either side. From a distance, Juggernaut 
noticed few widows and identified as from south India from their 
clothing pattern (as a custom some south Indian widows wear white saris 
wrapped in a manner to cover their heads sometimes clean shaved, an 
ancient custom now abandoned). The plan was to stop by them to strike a 
polite conversation to seek information about his grandfather's visits 
in the past. As he approached, the women hurried themselves into their 
homes and closed the door as if they were frightened. Puzzled, 
Juggernaut moved forward to meet an old man sitting on a concrete 
verandah. The man ignored the salutation and refused to communicate. 
After travelling few more minutes on the bicycle, he experienced the 
same with few more old widows. It appears the folks on this street were 
scared of strangers, especially a young man like Juggernaut, and this 
could have created a serious suspicion on the part of the old folks. 
Juggernaut felt as if he was like a village rowdy or villain 
terrorizing innocent folks. With hopes dashed to trace his 
grandfather's footprints in Banaras, Juggernaut took a slow ride on his 
bicycle on the narrow streets back to the campus. 

While riding back to the campus, Juggernaut noticed some vendors on the
roadside frying snacks in open large oil pans, and from here, the 
pungent smells of smoke of frying oil was emanating. One of the popular 
snacks was samosa, a snack prepared with a vegetable curry wrapped in 
thin sheet made from flour in shape of a triangle and deep fried in 
oil. In a conversation with the vendor which involved a whole lot of 
sign language since Juggernaut couldn't understand the language, he 
learned that it was the mustard oil that was emitting the pungent 
vapors when it was heated almost to smoking for deep frying the 
samosas. The vendor in sign language explained that the oil is good for 
heart and the pungent vapor is good for the lungs. A deep fried snack 
which is good for heart, a rear combination indeed thought Juggernaut 
but couldn't express in words, so he made a salutation to the vendor 
and left with two crispy samosas deep fried in mustarded oil. Though he 
couldn't trace his grandfather's path in Banaras, Juggernaut did learn 
that samosas fried in mustard oil are good for heart. 


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