When I was growing up in Bombay, India it was not as developed as it is today. Does it compare to San Francisco (read any big city in an apparently first world country) absolutely not but we’re still better of than before. NO, no elephants roam the streets. Cows and bullocks neither, unless they are domesticated. And yeah we got wifi and Uber and Forever 21 and Ferragamo and Jimmy Choo. Just making my point.
Today, after six days of self imposed house arrest when I went on a walk, I saw a chana-sing-wala. Chana means horse gram, sing is peanuts and wala means of or who does the said task or keep the said things. So it means, a man who sells roasted peanuts and gram. These are local munchies. Been around for centuries. There are different varieties. Some plain salted. Some with a spicy masala. At times, the same bloke with have dried peas. Brought back childhood memories where after an evening at the park, the grandfather would treat us to this simple snack.
Somewhere in the last thirty years with moving to the US and back and being busy with PT school and other grown up stuff, I had long forgotten the pleasure of eating this straight from the vendor. I was super surprised to see one (usually they are there in fixed touristy spots but this one was just in my locality, something I have never seen before) and didn’t forego the chance of reliving the childhood pleasure.
I am going to share with you a snap I took of the chanasingwalas goods. I am assuming very few know what I am talking about (those who are Indians know and probably don’t know what the hullabaloo is all about) and hoping you enjoy the simplicity and joy just as much as I did. Anyhow, I finally, got the masala sing and chana dal and shelled out ₹20 for both. That’s when I got a shock of my life!! It used to be ₹2 when I used to get it. Made me realise, it’s been 25 years since that day. Damn, when did I grow up so much???!!!
Oh gosh, I just remembered how one of these guys had a unique way of selling it, bit can’t fit it all in this post so will be sure to make a sequel to this post later.
From left to right: tiny little brown bottle for masala, horse gram being kept warm with coal and wood, masala chana dal (fried dried gram), masala sing (peanuts), masala fried dried peas, plain dried peas with a lemon on top, sing (salted roasted peanuts). The thing you see in the paper cone are chopped onions!
If you ask, he will give you a mix of any of the above with chopped onions and lemon juice and an extra special masala, which is yum.
He carries all these in a metal tub which he straps on to himself making him walk like a woman pregnant with quintuplets.