My sister being the smallest got the last bite from the packet. Now there were 5 empty packets in my sack. The taste was so addictive that we all wanted some more but unfortunately; we had left the town and were now headed towards the Karni Mata Mandir,Rajasthan(famously known as Rat Temple).
A U-turn could take us back to Bikaner Namkeen Bhandar, frying fresh namkeens and packing it right in front of us: some sweet white Chivda, spicy red Wafers, sour brown Farsan, salty off-white Papdi, moderate spicy yellow Shev and Nimbu moong dal.
The shop attendant patiently giving you taste of every item, even when you crib at slightest spicy namkeen “Bhaiya ye sev chakh ke dekho ye utni tez nahi.” The shop attendant had successfully handed us 7 different variety of namkeens.
Our hotel was at walking distance from the shop so while walking we opened the packet of wafers, we just had 5-6 of wafers and our fingers were completely red with colour but the health concerns were long lost with the taste of first wafer and till we reached the hotel the packet was empty.
Next day we left early for City tour. The red sand stone walls of Junagarh fort had the exact same colour of our fingers which were still red. This reminded us of namkeens and the packet of Farsan was now open. Even the guide had dared to crunch the Farsan in private room of Maharaja which was studded with mirrors so that Maharaja could see slightest movement and kill the intruder. We were out safely as royals now sleep in the 5-star Laxmi Niwas Palace. The exit gate dustbin now had two empty packets of namkeen.
After covering almost all tourist points by afternoon we were now having ginger tea with onion garlic Shev right outside the Bhandasar Jain temple. Ironically, Lord Mahavir (He proposed not to eat root vegetables) might have just blessed us. Our evening stroll in the near-by market ended up the sweet, salty and crunchy white Chiwda, which was my favourite namkeen of all.
With its taste still dwindling in my mouth I woke up the next morning to get to know my parents had emptied another packet of Shev. This triggered me to open the Papdi packet at breakfast and before leaving for Karni Mata Mandir the wrapper was properly folded and was in my sack’s dustbin pocket. We were now all ready to go see rats running all round the temple.
Shersingh, our driver before pulling the starter, “Sirji garam pani ke vajah se aaj bohot late hua. Uss chakar me nashta rehgaya.” This statement made us pull-out our last Bikaner namkeen the Nimbu (Lemon) moong dal and the front seat within minutes gave me an empty packet for my sack.
The 40minutes drive was full of dilemma for a U-turn or the miraculous temple where rats are worshipped. Before we could decide, we were inside the temple full of rats. The temple against our thoughts was very clean and rats only licked clean the milk offered to them, never bothering to come near you.
The rats had reduced my urge to go to Bikaner. The temple had blessed me with rat’s wisdom. The rats made me come out of my sophistication closet and enjoy the life as the senses demand. I had 5 empty packets which I licked clean as my tongue could not resist the addiction of Bikaneri namkeen. Now even as I lick my ice-cream the chocolate flavour of the ice-cream tastes like sour brown farsan and the chocolate chips remind me of onion garlic Shev.
“You waste a life when you waste the food. “-Katherine Anne Porter
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