Cool misty weather, slightly drizzling, a plate of hot crispy onion samosas and ginger chai. If this combination is making you drool, let us imagine all this on a train. The wind playing with the hair, the slight drizzle on the face. Throw in nostalgia for a good measure and you get pure heaven.
One condition though, you will need to be in a second class compartment in the Indian Railways. You will need to be travelling just before or right after the monsoon begins. When the entire country is parched waiting for the showers with a bated breath. We are not so much into monsoons, that we are sick of the incessant raining. So it is just the first shower days or better still the summer showers.
Your journey should be in the south India, preferably around Hyderabad region where these samosas are made. The super crispy, crackling samosa with only onion filling or the Irani samosas as they are called. The small ones, not the huge ones, where the filling is somewhere deep inside to be excavated. It is not the fully packed to the brim, potato samosa, where the two samosa’s will make a hearty meal. It is the nimble sized onion samosa, brown crackling super crispy crust, the onion filling, all polished in two bites. Washed down by the hot allam aka ginger tea.
The best experience of this combo was on Bhagyanagar express, the train connecting Hyderabad to the mining towns in current Telangana state. Now it has been extended to the neighboring state connecting to the industrial town of Ballarshah. The train starts in the afternoon in Secunderabad junction and within half hour to forty five minutes reaches Bhongir.
Bhongir or Bhuvanagiri was awaited for two reasons. One the view of the monolith rock and the glimpses of the fort on the top, for the history buff like me. And the second and the most important, the samosa vendors. They would mostly get in Bhongir, typically middle aged women, with a bamboo basket lined with news papers and mounds of fresh hot brown goodies. The aroma precedes them and announces the arrival of the much awaited snack. We have skipped lunch many times to have more room to gorge on this. We would get 10 samosa’s for 10 rupees, wrapped in the news paper. I know, rupee stretched a lot then. The tea cup is already in hand to heighten the experience.
Window seat with the slight drizzle on the face, the cool breeze, two bites of the samosa, one hot slurp of the ginger tea and the magnificent view of the fort, that was an experience in heaven. Two decades, thousands of miles of travel and I still long for that experience. Even if I get to go in that route again, will I recapture the experience? I am not so sure. There are somethings that taste best in memory. We can retry and sometimes capture the magic once again but Nostalgia will never taste the same once again.