Once upon a time, in another time-space continuum, we had a dream. And a plan too.
It was our Great Escape from the rat race. I should have been the one who came up with the idea—I was a product of generations of entrepreneurial Sindhi genes after all. But the credit must go to the husband.
It was a simple but brilliant idea. He would cook up a fury of fusion treats, we would invite travellers over to spend the evening at our home and give them a true taste of modern India.
We could spend the evening discussing any Gandhi they were intrigued by; we could sip our way through the liquid revolution in Maharashtra’s wine country; we could offer great first-person perspective on iconic Indian brands such as Old Monk; or sniff the medicinal properties of Indian herbs. We could discuss arranged marriages, how India was being rebuilt, why Mayawati doesn’t like Jodhaa Akbar, or last week’s rural lottery.
Meet the Pizza Grannies on Page 12
In India, you can never run out of conversation.
We planned it to the minutest detail. The menu would be a mix of dishes, some cooked before the guests arrived, and some while they were there so they could participate. There would even be a mini cooking lesson thrown in. And yes, a dosa counter too (I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like dosas). Later, they would even get a goody bag of basic spices.
It seemed easy enough to execute. A friend put us in touch with a lady from Frommer’s who was writing the first edition of the company’s India guide, targeted mostly at American, Australian and British travellers on the lookout for better quality experiences. She came over one evening and got a taste of our plan.
“How much will you charge?” she asked at the end of a wonderful evening, one where we never ran out of conversation.
“A thousand rupees a head,” I said.
She wrote that down.
A few weeks later we were offered jobs in Mumbai, the city I grew up in. The husband, who loves open spaces and quiet towns, once told me he would only move to my city if the job came with an apartment in south Mumbai. This one did, so we moved.
Our parents were relieved. A couple of months later, when the Frommer’s lady emailed asking for specific details so she could feature us in the guide, we had to tell her we had locked away our blueprint for escape.
PS: The ladies in this week’s cover story count themselves among New India’s food entrepreneurs. It’s a common enough dream, but turn to Page 12 to find out how they made it work.