Monday, 25 September 2017

One Memorable Train Journey from Pune to Bangalore

About a year after we got married, Anjali moved to Pune. She opted for a PG Diploma course in Emergency Medicine from Symbiosis University. Few of my good college buddies, Dhiru, Diganta and Saikat were in Pune those days. I and Anjali went to Pune, looked for a PG nearby the institute. Well, there were many options in that locality. Anjali liked one of them and paid the booking amount. The duration of the course was one year, and during that period I visited Pune about four to five times. On every occasion I stayed with Dhiru and Diganta, they both shared the same house those days. It was party time whenever I visited Pune. Reunion of old friends, Anjali also joined us in the evening after her classes were over. For the first time we traveled by bus, Volvo. It was pretty comfortable, Rs 1000/- per ticket, took 15 hours to reach Pune. They dropped us somewhere on Pune-Mumbai highway in the middle of the night. From there it was another 25-30 km to my friend’s place. We took an auto. On one occasion I took a train. Those were the days when Air Deccan entered the market and changed the dimension of aviation industry. It immediately became the pioneer of low-cost flights in India. Even average middle class people started to fly. One day I thought to give it a try and looked in the internet. Bangalore to Pune, Rs 1000/-, exactly same that of bus fare, but it would reach Pune in just one hour and 20 minutes. Also, my friends stayed very near to Pune airport.  

Anjali’s PG course was over. It was time for her to come back to Bangalore. Once again I traveled to Pune by Air Deccan. But the return journey I booked train tickets. Anjali had hell lot of luggage. It was actually much beyond my expectation, all total it could be around 100 kg I guess. We boarded our train in the morning. It was stationed on the platform. It came all the way from Mumbai, on its way to take us to Bangalore. We had to take a coolie. I also carried as much I could. The railway platform was crowded. We found our compartment. We somehow placed the luggage. There were many people sitting at our compartment, more than the number of berths. I was already tired, out of frustration I asked, “Itne saare log kaise baith gaye yahan pe?” (How come so many people occupied the seats here?)

All the men were in their middle age, one of them was quite tough looking. Couple of them replied in chorus, “We will get down in the next station.”

Suddenly a lean man grabbed my attention. He was at the window seat opposite to us. He was handcuffed, one hand locked to the window. Both I and Anjali felt weird. I thought they guy must have done something wrong in the train and the Railway police handcuffed him. Soon our conversation started with the co-passengers. They were all policemen. The handcuffed guy was actually a thief, laptop thief. He was from a village in Karnataka. The policemen were taking him to Karnataka police to progress with the case, to catch hold of the entire gang. 

"Are you guys from Railway police?" I asked.

"No. No. We are Mumbai police," they replied in chorus. Proudness on their face.

In few minutes the train slowed down, and then stopped. Three of the fellow policemen got down at the very first station from Pune to Bangalore.  They said goodbye to us. All the policemen were good friends. They shook hands, wished good luck. They were speaking in Marathi, but we were able to make out everything. Suddenly the train started with a jerk. So from here the real journey starts. I, Anjali, a handcuffed thief, and three policemen.

All the three policemen were very decent. One of them looked quite rough and tough, another a little short with big belly, and the last one looked normal. They seemed to be very friendly. Soon they opened a polythene bag. There were Vada pav inside, nicely packed. Well, Vada pav is a simple vegetarian fast food dish native to the state of Maharashtra in India. It's local Indian burger stuffed with deep fried potato along with coriander, onion, spices and chutney. It is immensely popular fast food dish all throughout Maharashtra. 

They offered us their food. Out of courtesy we were a bit reluctant to accept. But it wasn’t too hard for them to convince us. They also offered a Vada pav to the thief, in fact it was an order. The offender denied. The rough and tough policeman asked him one more time. Again the thief denied. The policeman slapped him hard 2-3 times. They bad guy immediately got hold of the Vada pav and put inside his mouth. Anjali was very shocked.

"Why are you beating him? He might not be hungry," Anjali looked sad.

"Sorry, I shouldn’t have beaten him in front of you. But you have no idea about such people. They are criminals. They have no heart, no emotion. The only think they understand is the stick. We caught him red handed with three stolen laptops. We immediately arrested him. For the first two days he spoke only in Kannada. We were so frustrated. We then applied some dose on him, and pretty soon few Hindi words uttered from his mouth. We increased the dose, and few more Hindi words came out of his mouth. In the next few hours as the dose kept increasing he became more and more fluent in Hindi. There is no other way to deal with such people," the policeman explained in details.

Time spent well. Interesting conversation. I asked how they catch the criminals, how they get the leads? They shared few of their stories. In between, our discussion turned to a different direction. Anjali asked their names. One of the policeman, the fat one was very proud of his surname. 

"I’m Rajput. You guys know Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, right? He’s also a Rajput," The man’s proudness showed up.

Then Anjali popped in. She was also very happy. "Yes, we are also Rajput," She said. They asked her name, and the Rajput thing continued for a while. 

"So, are you also a Rajput?" One of them asked me. I was a bit confused. 

"Yeah. Like that only, no very sure," I murmured.  

"What is your name?"

"Jahid. Jahid Akhtar," I replied.

There was a silence for a while. And then things turned back to normal. 

Time passed by. Darkness fell. Starts shinning in the sky. Evening is the best time when we travel in sleeper class. Pleasant breeze. Open sky. The typical train sound effect just gets tuned to our brain. 

"So what are you guys planning to do? How are you going to catch all the gang members?" I asked. 

"Tomorrow morning we need to go to Madivala Police station in Bangalore. We need to submit an application to request extension of his remand for seven more days to gather more information from him," one of the policeman answered.

"But aren’t the Bangalore police going to help you guys? You are only three policemen, and you don’t even know the locality well," I expressed my concern.

The policemen looked at each other, smiled. "These interstate investigation cases are kind of complex. They help eventually, but it takes time. There are lot of formalities. For high priority cases the procedure is fast. But for normal cases it’s not that easy. Few years ago our team leader, the policeman pointed towards the fat guy, tried to pull his legs. So, two-three years ago our team leader visited Bangalore for an investigation. He was at the police station for the entire day, and only the next morning his application was accepted. The major problem is the Bangalore police speak only in Kannada or English. Actually, our English is a bit poor," The policeman shared their worry.

Later the policemen asked if we could help them in writing the application for them. Anjali was eager to help. They gave the content and she drafted it. They were so happy, felt pretty relaxed. After dinner, the lights were turned off. Everyone went to sleep. The windows were open. I kept looking at the dark sky.

In the morning we reached Bangalore. The policemen thanked us. They gave us their numbers. 

"If you guys come to Mumbai or Pune, and if you are in any kind of trouble, just call us," the policemen expressed their friendship. We were so happy, smiled, "Sure, that’s so nice of you."

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Ambur Mutton Biriyani

This post has been featured in BlogAdda's "Tangy Tuesday Picks" this week.

When it comes to Biryani the first thing that comes to our mind is "Hyderabadi Biryani". In case you don’t know what biryani is all about? Well, it is a South Asian mixed rice dish with its origins among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. It is a very popular recipe in the subcontinent. Everyone just love biriyani irrespective of gender, color, race, religion, region, language. Biriyani has somehow united the entire subcontinent in its own way. No doubt that Hyderabadi biryani is one of the most popular dishes, not only in south India but across the country. The dish is basically from Mughlai cuisine, and is quite a challenge to prepare, as it has some unique ways of spicing it up. Apart from Hyderabadi biriyani there are also different other varieties of biriyani which are equally tasty. One of my favorite is  "Ambur Mutton Biryani".

Ambur is a town in the Vellore District of Tamil Nadu, India. It is located on the banks of the Palar River on the Chennai-Bangalore National Highway. The place is quite well-known for its biriyani. I have been preparing Ambur Mutton Biriyani for quite some time now. It was Mr Viswanaathan Ramaseshan who introduced this recipe to me. Soon, I became a fan of it. I just thought to share this amazing dish to everyone.

Ingredients required (Preparation for 4 people) {
  1. 500 grams Mutton
  2. 500 grams Seeraga Samba Rice (One can use some other rice as well. But Ambur briyani comes out really well with Seeraga Samba Rice. Samba is a variety of rice grown in Tamil Nadu, also some other parts of India and Sri Lanka, and has a small ovular grain, compared to the long grain of basmati rice.)
  3. 2-3 tablespoon of refined oil.
  4. 50-100 grams of Ginger-Garlic paste (Freshly prepared, highly recommended)
  5. 2 sliced onions
  6. 2 Tomatoes, chopped (I prepared it with and without tomatoes. Without tomatoes also it is equally tasty)
  7. 10 – 13 Dried Red chilies ground to paste 
  8. Few pieces of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon sticks
  9. Coriander leaves
  10. Mint leaves
  11. 2-3 tablespoon of card
  12. Juice out of one lemon
  13. Salt (According to taste, preferably 1 to 2 tablespoon)

  1. Soak the rice in lots of water. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan
  3. Add spoon of curd. Add in the Cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Fry for 10 seconds. Add in the garlic paste. Fry for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.
  4. Now, add in the ginger paste. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the raw smell of the ginger goes off.
  5. Add in the chili paste, mutton, the mint and coriander leaves, chopped onions, tomatoes, salt, curd and lime juice. Add in a cup (250 ml) of water. Mix well to combine.
  6. Cover and pressure cook everything for 5-6 whistles on medium flame. Switch off the flame and wait for the pressure to release naturally.  
  7. Add in the soaked rice to the mutton gravy. Add in extra water, salt if necessary. Cook of another 3-4 whistles on medium flame. Switch off the flame and wait for the pressure to release naturally.
  8. Open the lid and gently fluff up the rice to mix. Serve the mutton biryani hot.  

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

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