I will try and keep this as simple as possible.
What makes good food,great food?The wafer-thin line separating them is invisible at times,but being on the wrong end of the line makes a world of difference at the end of the day.My love towards food is platonic,unbiased and loyal(well,almost).Before I get seduced by the smell of tandoori chicken lingering in my room as I write(thanks to the college canteen),let me get started.
When you study/stay at place,right in the middle of nowhere,you are in constant need of a change in scene.So we left for Kanyakumari(the southern most point of the Indian mainland) leaving the spiteful wardens and burdening assignments behind.It was about 7:30pm and we were famished plus the authorities expect us to be at the hostel by 8pm(like anybody gives a flying fuck).The place drained us of our resources.There was this thela one friend knew about.Thelas to be precise,nothing eye-catching about them,hardly a cynosure to the eyes.Each one of them had wooden benches welcoming the customers.All of them selling the same thing.Fried-fish(Meen) with boiled potataoes(Kappa).Considered to be a delicacy of sorts in this area.There was this thela right at the end.For reasons unknown,we chose this thela among the four.I have no idea as to how heaven smells like but if I had to take a guess I would vote for this place.Pungent aromas,bright street-lights,salty sea-breeze.There was something awe-inspiring and magical about this tiny blue shack,contrary to what I felt earlier about the place.People from all forms of life be they rich or poor sat on benches or in their Scorpios and gorged on their fish listening to some old tamil(or malayalam) song playing on the radio.I overheard a British guy(I could make out from his accent) tell some random customer that he visited the place daily ever since he settled in India. There was a guy in white lungi(The Dude) with a swagger which could put Rajnikant to shame(well,almost).We ordered a few plates of haila fish.And sat down to watch perfection being personified.The dude picked up the raw fishes lying in the plate,painted them red with his mixture of spices and chilli powder.He put them in a bucket and tossed them for uniform distribution of spices.Later he fried them till they looked like a benchmark against which all fried fish could be measured.The dude removed them expertly from pan,tossed them in a plate,handed them one by one,it was touch-and –scream-for-a-minute hot.I tried in vain to blow it cold,with water droplets sliding down my chin and the aroma filling my nostrils,I gave into the temptation and tore up a piece from the craniate.Put it in my mouth and chewed it.
Everything became invisible.It was like summer in my mouth.I personally associate all the good things in life with summer,blame it on the long vacations I guess.It felt right.I could taste Beethoven’s symphonies in my mouth.This is how Lord Buddha must have felt when he gained enlightenment.You could sense the purpose of being.The fish was as fresh as they come.The dude must have bought his fish directly from the fishermen after they returned ashore during dusk.3 or 4 hours prior to floating in simmering oil,it must have been exploring the vast unknowns of the Indian ocean.The realization made the experience all the more poetic.And then I opened my eyes to find my finger red with an angry blister and my nose watery.This is what great food does to you,all your senses concentrate on the pretentious nature of the food.It came close to anything mom would conjure up when I had a tough day at school.Hell,I could live of that fish till eternity.I finished the fish.I felt enlightened after doing so.Memories fade,moments don’t.Moments like these live on to become legends or blogposts.My dalliance with the blue shack had come to an end.
You don’t need to go around searching for heroes,any random guy can be a hero.This dude was ours.We paid him more than he asked for.I wouldn’t quantify it for the simple reason that one can’t quantify perfection.It is infinite.I walked away from that blue shack satisfied.