As we walked into the local polling station R noted how everyone leaving the place, after casting their vote, looked positively holy. "Just like people who have visited a temple.' he said. Yes, they looked as if they had a little halo above their heads. Doing your duty is worship too.
Sad to say only 40% of the population did their duty. Inspite of all the advertisements exhorting people to vote, this year the turnout was even less.
It did not help that the electoral rolls were once again a complete mess. It seemed that this was especially the case for the middle class. New registrations were not added to the lists. Families were divided by pages of names, societies were split apart, addresses were impossible to decipher -and the names!- It took me 4 hours to find my name. I was listed as Missus + husbands first name. It required persistance and imagination to find this. One had to imagine how a typist, faced with a form in English, would fill the information in Marathi. Spellings, in many cases, were a figment of the imagination.
Husband and a neighbour were listed twice. One dear neighbour who passed away several years ago still lives on in the rolls.
Give the authorities some due though. The slums were listed, page after page after page of names. Every resident of every shack. The local politicians see to it that they are included in the electoral rolls.Is this because their needs are basic and their hopes even less? Or can the votes be bought? For a tip and a tot?
I speculate about these things and wonder when the parties declare that roti ,kapda or makaan are their priorities, how anybody eats a square meal these days when inflation is down but prices of food still very high. Vegetables and fruit costs are astronomical. Rs 100 per kg for any type of fruit and Rs 30 per kg for any kind of green veg.
Eating out or eating at all, for many people in Pune, means pau bhaji where the bhaji is mighty little. Not that PB isn't tasty. In fact if you miss that sidewalk food you can try making it at home. This will go a long way in feeding a family of four with a few delicious paus.Here is one authentic recipe.
1 cup finely chopped onions,
1” ginger, grated
10 cloves garlic,
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric/ haldi
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup green peppers/ simla mirch, cut into small pieces
1 cup potatoes , boiled and diced
1 cup cauliflower, steamed and broken into florets
¼ cup green peas, boiled well.
½ cup butter
Salt to taste
Pau bhaji Masala, any make
½ cup chopped coriander leaves/ hara dhaniya
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Make a paste of the ginger garlic. Melt half the butter in a thick bottomed frying pan or tava. Reserve a tbsp of the onions and fry the rest till soft. Add the tomatoes and fry well. Add the simla mirch and cook for a short while. Add the potatoes, cauliflower and the green peas. Stir well.
Using a slotted spoon or potato masher, mash the vegetables together. When the oil begins to separate from the vegetables add the haldi and salt.
Now add the ginger garlic paste and continue to fry. Add the pau bhaji masala and the red chilli powder. Stir a few times. Add a cup of water and cook on a low fire till the vegetables have become a thick mush. Add the rest of the butter and a tablespoon of chopped onions . Sprinkle the green dhaniya and lemon juice on top and serve hot with pau.