Mornings are an altogether different thing in Mumbai. Unlike the “subehe Kashi” (morning in Kashi), where mornings are king of romantic and melodious, in the urban sprawl of Mumbai it is anything but that. With scores and scores of Mumbaikars (good tens on the roads and on the run, there is no respite, calmness or freshness to be sought in the morning. Sanity is dependent on precise minutes like 8:15 F, or 8:47 S. Omens, good or bad, are all about whether you were able to find a seating place in the train. Chivalries and niceties are easily dumped, when you need to jump a queue and duck into a share auto, even before the lady, who has been patiently standing there for well over 10 minutes. Thus, mornings in Mumbai are chaos supreme, with blood pressures soaring and people zipping from one point to another.
In the very midst of this madness, there are little oasis of peace and tranquility that abound across the city. And the best thing is that these oases are mobile and agile, travelling along on the back on a bicycle. These are the Breakfast Annas of Mumbai that feed a huge population on the run.
Across the city, from early morning you will find these magical men with their bicycles feeding a population that is constantly on the run. At vantage points you will find them, with their meduvadas and idlis (at times even plain dosa). Quickly consumable and awesomely cheap, these Breakfast Annas are an essential part of Mumbai life. People waiting for a bus or a rickshaw, will quickly converge at these anna-spots and savour the goodies. For 10 bucks a plate, you can wallop down 3 small meduwadas or idlis and continue on. These annas are like small pit-stops for the people to come and charge self before rejoining the rush to work.
One of the things that truly amazed me over the years was the apparent standardised fare that is similar across the city. The idlis, the vadas, the sambar, and even the chatni taste almost the same all across. You move from one area to another, and yet the taste more or less remains the same. It took some investigation and journalistic prodding that I discovered the reason. Typically, the annas seem like householders, who are retailing homemade fare. But then, nothing could really be further from the truth. All the food stuff is actually mass-produced on a factory scale at different designated areas like Dharavi and thereon. The Breakfast Anna are merely retailers, who buy a designated quota everyday and cart it all over the place. This in short, is the reason for the uniformity. These annas are not the creators but merely smart vendors of the fast-food fare. Continue reading