Friday, April 28, 2006

Episode 9 of India Travels: "Khalsa Sweet Centre" (Part 3)

Monday 4th August 2003, day 40 of my India trip. Today I continued with Sukhmani Sahib santhiyaa (which I started on Sunday). My stomach was not feeling right. I could feel there was a problem. I told Giani Ji when doing Santhiya that I had an upset stomach. After santhiya he got his nephew to bring me some HAJMOLA (which is natural digestive medicine, which STINKS and tastes AWFUL, but it works!). I felt better after eating Hajmola.

I felt like eating DEHEE (yoghurt) because I love Dehee but hadn’t eaten any since I had come to stay at Sri Damdama Sahib, also it would perhaps help my stomach. So I asked Giani Ji if he knew a shop where I could get some Dehee. He asked me to come to his house but I didn’t want to trouble him. He said that I should be able to get some Dehee from the Bazaar near the Takht Sahib.

Chalo, so I walked to the Bazaar (left hand side of the Takht Sahib). I asked a Singh walking in the Bazaar that does he know where I can get some Dehee? He told me that if I go to the Hotel, they sell Dehee. I said, “Are they Amritdhari? I prefer to eat from Amritdharis” (considering my previous food problems, I ASSUMED that Amritdharis would be cautious of HYGIENE and take care with handling food). He said “Bhai Sahib you can either go the Hotel or to the Khalsa Sweet Centre.” Okay – “Hotel” or “Khalsa Sweet Centre”. Ermm…. I thought “KHALSA SWEET CENTRE”. He said “Are you sure? Go to the Hotel jee.” I replied, “I prefer to eat from the Khalsa.”

So I walk down the road and look up at the shop boards looking for “Khalsa Sweet Centre.” At last! I found it. The shop was EMPTY. A Sardaar was standing there with a Kesri Keski (short Saffron coloured turban) wrapped around his head. I asked “Do you sell Dehee?” “Hanji, sit down, sit down.” So I sat down.

WAHEGURU. The tables and benches were made out of WOOD. I look to the side and these two boys (who looked Bihari) were sitting there MAKING SANDWICHES with Ahloo stuffing. I felt SICK! Rab Maaf Kare, don't want to sound rude, but the poor kids didn't look like they had ISHNAAN (a bath) and their clothes looked dirty. On top of that they were touching their face and wiping their sweat and using the SAME HANDS to shove Ahloo Mixture and spread it with their HANDS on the bread. Then they put the sandwiches on the BENCH where people had been SITTING DOWN. Waheguru! My mind said to me, “Perhaps you would have been better off going to the Hotel.”

Chalo I told myself, “Manvir Singh you are in India. Don’t be fussy. Just say ‘WAHEGURU’ and quietly eat the Dehee.” The Sardaar (thinking back now, I don’t even think he was even Amritdhari!) came up to me and brought me a steel bowl and spoon and placed it in front of me. I told him that the bowl looked unclean. He said, “No problem.” He picked up the plate and WIPED HIS SWEATY HANDS over the bowl. I felt SICK. However my mind said, “Okay. Its sickening but O well, you are in INDIA. Don’t worry the man is Amritdhari!” Chalo, I kept quiet (as I was feeling ill and needed something to help my stomach ache).

He then brought the Dehee from the fridge. He poured it in the bowl. There was a FLY or a BUG (basically something black and small!) in the Dehee which could be seen from the top of the bowl. I told the man and he said, “Koyee nehee jee, no problem.” Waheguru. Guess what happens? He comes over and with HIS HANDS he shoves it in the Dehee which I am supposed to eat and picks out the bug. At this point I am crying from inside and thinking “WHAT IS HAPPENING”.

I quietly ate the Dehee not knowing whether to throw up or what. Worst thing the man was standing near me so I couldn’t walk away. I paid 5 Rupees for the Dehee and walked off FEELING SICKER than before.

I went to “KHALSA SWEET CENTRE” but I don’t know where the “KHALSA” part of the shop was! Rab Rakha. Moral of the story – “Don’t be fooled by labels or shop boards!”


tso said...

Manvir Ji,

Now that you have lived to tell of the dirt, germs, and added protein ("something small and black in the dehee") you encountered while in India, may you be smiling from the inside! I am!

Love your stories!!

Satwinder Singh said...

Manvir Veer Jee,

your story remind me of an another incident which happened to a Kenyan Student(my friend) in Amritsar. Once he stoped near Putlighar to take a cup of tea. shopkeeper gave him cup of tea which was most probably made earlier and was not hot enough. He (my friend) said to shopkeeper that tea is not hot.....on listening this, shopkeeper came forward and literally put his finger in cup my friend was holding in his hand to check the temprature... and said "it's hot, drink it". My friend felt so bad that he left the shop ....and he was a Phd student in Guru Nanak Dev University!

Anonymous said...

Dear Manveer,

If you think things are not good and hygenic in india please do something otherwise we already have crores criticising India and indian government.


Anonymous said...

why didnt you walk away from the food. didnt guru gobind singh write asking raab to allow him to have shiv's bar to never feel scared of doing the right deed? the right deed was to reject such dirty food, even if it was food. you shouldnt have to make do just because of subpar restaurant service. be a strong Khalsa! dont be afraid to make ripples in the water.