Tuesday, July 08, 2014

And then there were enchilladas

When J first came to this city a little more than seven years ago, Mexican food was the great divider. Part of it of course, was a simple craving; having been a California boy for all his adult years it was natural that Mexican food would be such a part of his habits that he couldn’t quite fathom going weeks and months without it. But partly it was just another way in which he, adventurer, follower of his heart, global enthusiast and fearless romantic, would be reminded that well, Bangalore was simply not home.

And yet, was that not part of its charm? Indeed it was. In those early days, he was taken up by everything he saw and experienced because it was a long way both physically and spiritually from the pounding surf of California. Also, our story was then still being written; even though we acknowledged an all-consuming and mystical attraction to each other, we didn’t know if the legal knots presented by his foreign citizenship would be too much to fight against.

So it went. There was this girl he had his heart set on, but meanwhile each day was a fresh circus of delights in this teeming city of ours. Graceful trumpet trees would catch his eye one moment, and life-threatening traffic would sap his energy the next. He met people who asked him the most inane questions (“do you find the culture different?”) but also formed long-lasting relationships with colleagues and friends. He went to weddings and participated in our festivals. He ate Indian food…and that’s where we can now hear the sound of a metaphorical squeal of the brakes.

For however headlong J had fallen for Indian food, he would sometimes manfully struggle with South Indian fare, especially if served for breakfast. Curry leaf was an enigma to him, and he simply didn’t see what the fuss was about dosas. At times he would sigh wistfully about how he longed for a plate of simple fish tacos, or a helping of huevos rancheros instead of upma for breakfast. He did try cooking his missing favorites at home, but the longing used to crop up pretty strongly on some days.

And in those days, Mexican restaurants were virtually non-existent here. We did some back-breaking research and meticulously tried out the few that offered some variety of Mexican, but each time poor J would pronounce himself disappointed. That plate of fish tacos stayed in his head, mocking him along with leering nachos and sneering fajitas.

But now, seven years later? The man is married to his Indian love (that would be me) and has his choice of fine establishments where they serve him whacking big helpings of whatever he can name on a Mexican menu.

The pace of change in Bangalore has been fascinating, even dizzying, in our time here. Mexican food is the tip of the iceberg, and I have the delightful position of not only being an immigrant here myself, but of seeing the city through his eyes. The adventure continues, fuelled by guacamole and curry leaf in equal measure. 

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