Monday, March 7, 2011

The Padaria

When we first went there, at maybe 11am, the bakery was shut and the only occupant was a man fast asleep in a chair placed in the alle. Our walking in, pushing open the door and looking inside, taking pictures of the alley did not waken him. 'He's tired, he has just finished the morning bake' whispered my mian with the empathy of one who also wakes up at 4am because his dough won't wait.

We returned the same day in time for the afternoon bake and were rewarded by a bustling place. The bakery was a thriving little business run by the same family for the last one hundred and fifty years. Like Theseus's ship, the oven had had little patch up jobs every now and then, but for all intents and purposes it had been at work throughout that period. Despite that family's shaky hinglish and this family's utter lack of konkani we managed to exchange necessary bits of information. The present owner was a woman who told us of the bakery's history while the son told us of the baking itself. Once he learnt that Mian had baked on a commercial scale too, the two of them rapidly bonded over the merits of dough mixers and the satisfaction of a perfect batch of bread.

In the meantime, the younger son and the daughter (in-law?) had corralled me in a corner and were getting the details of our love story. Never bashful, I was happy enough to tell them about how we met, how the stars conspired to make us meet over and over again, and how he wooed me with his baking. As we stood giggling in that corner, the object of my affections was happily observing a working bakery and getting information about how it worked.

Very conscious of our learnings from various surveys we had undertaken, we were careful not to ask for personal details- names, ages, money earned and so on. There is a difference though, between a suspicious and defensive 'project-beneficiary', and a craftsman who is brimming over with pride and pleasure in his work. As we said our goodbyes and thanks, we were stopped by a confidently outstretched hand. 'Hello' the little boy said in English,' my name is Vishal. What is your name?'

1 comment:

nadi said...