Some people can hold you off guard with their potential. Some with their smile. The train supplier did both. A supplier from the southern railways pantry was on his best, selling one eatable after another from the time the train cranked up its engine for yet another journey. The train shuttles endlessly from Coimbatore to Chennai with little rest and so does this brother on the train.
We got a samosa and cutlet first because sometimes our appetite can be insatiable on a boring long chair car journey. We then bought biscuits, bread omelet and tomato soup (I drank two; I can never resist tomato soup). We walked four coaches to get to the pantry for Tomato soup and had a tedious journey back, dodging people and spilling food; thinking how swiftly these pantry suppliers walk across the giant caterpillar. I remember calling caterpillars as “train poochi” as a small child. Most of us knew them by that name! By the way, poochi is the Tamil word for insect.
This man, came on his…. (I don’t want to fathom counting his rounds with the delicacies on his shoulder). “Masal Dhosai, Soodana Masal Dhosai,” he announced tempting our south Indian taste buds. Seeing us look at each other’s face, he came over. I said I will take it later as I have dumped too much into my stomach already.
“What did you eat that much? A samosa, a cutlet, some Choco Fill biscuits; and I saw you carrying soup from the pantry. That’s not much. Eat. Young girls must eat well,” he said smiling into my super astonished face. He would have sold so much to so many people, how did he remember what he gave me? I didn’t notice that I bought them all from him or in his presence!
He let out a small laugh at my widened eyes and moved forward, “Masal Dhosai, Hot-ah Masal Dhosai.”