Christmas is here – at office, in beautifully decorated shops and malls, special gift hampers on display and cakes been baked. Secret Santa makes this season of giving more fun at work. Since last few days our work desks are overflowing with surprises – pastries, waffles, cakes, muffins, even health food & cookies! These happy vibes made me ponder about my original Foodie Santa who turns 93 today.
Yes, my Foodie Santa. He introduced me to the true joy of giving so many years back. Looking back, I realise he has been our own Santa. Unlike the old, fair, chubby Santa, my tall, lean Santa in crisply ironed clothes is young at heart. He is always ready with delicious goodies and treats perfectly chosen for the occasion – wedding, birthday, pooja, festivals or just a warm visit to meet friends and family.
Owners and staff of every restaurant and shop he frequents greet him with equal warmth and love. He fills his sack of food, love and joy at these places. A delectable spread of mithai, farsan, biscuits, puffs, hot breakfast or a bag full of fish bought at the market. It is happily emptied at your house over a hot cup of tea, jokes and laughter.
A hearty meal of traditionally cooked fish, bhakri and rice is reserved for weekends. As a child he would diligently send message to me and my bother to be ready for lunch. A cab would arrive sharp at 11.30 am, taking us to famous seafood restaurants around Dadar, Lower Parel and even Fort. The popular khanavals like Anant Ashram (Girgaum), Jai Hind (Dadar), Kshirsagar (Parel), Highway Gomantak (Bandra) came into my life because of him. Else we would head to Bhagat Tarachand and Badshah falooda in town for a rare vegetarian meal. Dare not try to pay for your meals! Such is his aura that restaurant staff will not accept payment from his guests.
On our breakfast trails were local eateries in Dadar and Matunga – Prakash, Mysore Café, Ramanayak. We also enjoyed a brun maska, omelette at Café Colony in Dadar (East). On other days, he will knock on our door with a box of goodies from Parsi Dairy, Merwans, D. Damodar or some other well-known place.
My Foodie Santa is now little frail but young in spirit. Still walks down the lanes and by-lanes meeting people and friends. Urging us to make our next meal or a travel plan. Occasionally taking a bus ride just to wander around. Over weekends he enjoys a hot meal of fish curry and rice or simple dal cooked by me. For his love for food and feeding, will still drag you to a nearby restaurant when you cross paths.
As he turns 93, I am ready to celebrate with his favourite delights. For all you know he is our own Santa, teaching us the joy of giving and loving!
Who is your own Santa?