Went to Dallas for a nostalgic week with Venky, Priya, Sanju and Rajeev. It was my maiden solo flight in the US, from Dulles Airport to Dallas Fort Worth . My alarm at being swallowed into the gargantuan oesophagus of the departure terminal at Dulles (Dullus, is how you say it, not Dulls I learnt) as P left me to my fate , was inversely proportional to the relief that washed over me on sighting Venky in DALLus (not Dullaas).
Because, at Dulles, I went down a deep escalator that looked long enough to connect Mt.Everest with its base, walked through winding passages, went up a couple or three escalators, and took a little train , went down the escalator and finally reached the RIGHT Gate. No fear of getting on the wrong plane and going off to Brisbane this time.
No such confounding exit awaited me at DFW. I was out in under 10 minutes, and was found by Venky and we got home to Plano in about 40 minutes.
Priya had a lunch that was redolent of Madras waiting, which was eaten over IPL followed by a bit of Sun TV. With Rohini’s famous cross-stitch of the bald eagle swooping magnificently across a backdrop of purple mountains and a couple of her other masterpieces hanging on the living room walls, it felt more like Madras than Dallas.
The heavy Sunday lunch called for an afternoon spent lying prone like a python that had wolfed down an elephant ( haha– that’s the wildlife taken care of) which all of us proceeded to do, snuggling with fleece blankets on the sofas (Venky and Priya) and on the lounger (me). Sanju and Rajeev disappeared into their own lairs.
In the evening we went to the mall.
AND I DISCOVERED THAT BACK IN 2000, GEORGE W BUSH HAD ACTUALLY CHOKED ON THE KHARA BUN FROM HASSAN IYENGAR BAKERY!!
Venky was being the indulgent Big Brother, asking me what I wanted, and telling Priya to get me this , that and the other, as we strolled through the mall, looking for things to buy and then waiting for the feeling to go away, thus saving ourselves a lot of money.
We just looked in windows, and I tried to stare unobtrusively at guy who had gelled up his hair in punky pikes, remembering not to say anything in any of the languages we knew, because in Texas, apart from Bush, you never know who speaks the same ones. And the consequences of such indiscretions cannot really be contemplated.
When we came to the pretzel shop, Venky asked if I’d like one. I knew of the pretzel, and the legend of George Bush choking on one, and the zillion jokes that grew around it, but what with one thing and another, never really googled that one.
I was coming face to face with the presidential offender at last. Venky insisted I should try the jalopeno pretzel. Of course, this wasn’t the one that launched a zillion punchlines, but I prefer the pungent to the sweet, and soon I was salivating over a loop of what looked like ………
nothing I had seen before. I popped a bit in my mouth, and then my eyes popped out in surprise. Venky had become quite still, and was staring unblinkly at me……
“Hey……….this is like the khara bun– Hassan Bakery style!!”
Venky’s delighted crack of laughter said it all! How many khara buns with bits of chillies, onion and coriander had we bitten into through countless summer holidays, and later when Venky stopped by on his way home to Madras from Hassan, where he was studying engineering!
Rainy afternoon with Enid Blytons (me , not Venky, who wasn’t the bookish sort in those days, though he has turned into one now, thanks to his job that takes him Up In the Air, like George Clooney. I can see him looking at this menacingly!) and khara buns to munch on– it was bliss.
That March Sunday evening, it was uncanny… Venky and I munching on khara bun in Bush country!! Who’d ever have thought it possible? !!
Pretzel BTW is a type of European-descended baked goody made from dough in soft and hard varieties and savory or sweet flavors often in a unique knot-like shape. The archetypal pretzel shape is a distinctive symmetrical looped form, whereby the ends of a long strip of dough are intertwined, says Wikipedia.
Here’s the pic of a pretzel– not the jalopeno. Probably the kind that Bush choked on.