I don’t know if this is peculiar to Mumbai but once upon a time , a boiled egg seller outside a beer bar was common sight in Mumbai.
But this sight has become rare ever Mumbai’s Beer Bars were shut down in the early 2000’s because of the shady activities that were conducted there. While the patrons quaffed their thirst with cold beers , the young , skimpily clad bar dancers quenched other thirsts that raged hot through their blood. Of course, some were also shut down because of the deaths caused by serving spurious liquor.
This move by the government affected bar owners, the bar dancers, the liquor distributors and the boiled egg sellers. They all suffered a dip in their business.
The boiled egg sellers were shifty looking men, stationed strategically near a beer bar or a country liquor bar as the sun set . That’s when they did brisk business as the patrons swayed out . The swaggering heroes quickly gobbled down a boiled egg or two in the mistaken belief that a shot of protein would help absorb the liquor. This would, they hoped instill a level of sobriety as they made their way home.
Boiled eggs, beer and me
There must be some element of truth to this because I remember having a boiled egg with a glass of rice beer.
It was the summer of 1969 (I think) when my mom, brother and I went to NEFA ( re-christened as Arunachal Pradesh, since) for a holiday. My father was part of a Border Roads organisation based in Tezpur. Part of his duties involved touring the out lying areas of the Border Roads camps and supervising their medical care facilities.
He arranged to have us accompany him on one of those trips and till today , it remains a holiday I’d like to repeat. The cool climate, the glorious rhododendrons, the orchids and above all the fascinating cultures are things I can’t forget.
In those days Indians in uniform were not looked upon too kindly by the locals in the North East and when my father was invited with his family for a beer , to the house of an Apatani village chieftain, he warned us to mind our p’s and q’s . We had to be careful not to offend our hosts who were a very sensitive people.
We were more scared than happy at the prospect of meeting such people. As it is they looked different from us and we had no idea of what would offend them. I’d heard stories of how a village chieftain was offended when Prime Minister Nehru politely refused a dowry of a few Mithun ( the ugly looking bovine that provided them milk) for his daughter’s hand in marriage. I can’t quite remember what the retribution for this gaffe was, but I had also heard that the tribal code made sure that offenders were suitably punished.
So when we were shown around the village we held our tongues and oohed and aahed at the right places.
Finally when we climbed up to his bamboo house, we were relieved that our trip was coming to an end . Being exceptionally good is very difficult and tedious for pre-teens .
After the host introduced us to his family, he bade us sit down while he brought out the rice beer. The beer was served in bamboo glasses so my mother had warned us just to pretend sipping it as the hosts would never make out if we had really drunk any or not till we put the glasses down and left the hut.
Being a Goody Two Shoes, I listened but my brother was another glass of beer . He actually drank it like a glass of Coca Cola! Of course he was more discrete and sipped it.
In all this we were offered steaming hot boiled eggs. My mother was pleased as we were scared we may be offered some of the insect delicacies we’d seen the children munching on so happily. Incidentally, the eggs were salted with some grass that was burnt down as the village was too far to access sea salt.
As we made our way home in the Jonga my mother heaved a sigh of relief and said,” Thank God we only got boiled eggs.”
“Thank God you didn’t see how he served the eggs,” retorted my father .
“What do you mean?” she asked.” Eggs are boiled in water and they are clean and germ free.”
“That’s what you think. These eggs were hot and the head man kept licking his fingers and peeling the egg.”
“What! ” said my mother ready to throw up.
Seeing her shocked face, my brother couldn’t stop giggling . That’s when she realised that he had drunk more than half the glass of beer !!
I’m inviting you to share your drool worthy food stories with Shilpa and me on #FlavoursomeTuesdays.
Do join in and hashtag your post with #FlavoursomeTuesdays and spread some foodie cheer around .
Looking forward to seeing you at our table!
P.S. As an aside , I’d like to add that I scoured my neighbourhood for a cheap country liquor bar to illustrate my point but the entire area up to a radius of 1 km seems to be sanitised .
This could mean
- Consumption of alcohol in public places has gone down
- People have shifted from country hooch to single malts