Dark glasses, flowery bag in hand, Indian cricket's chief selector Sandeep Patil is a familiar sight in Dadar, shopping for vegetables and meat, poultry and seafood. This writer spotted him when he was on one of his rounds in the market. So what's the former India batsman like while shopping?
Selection call: Chief of the Indian Cricket team selection committee, Sandeep Patil, loves to shop for his veggies, fish and meats. He is a familiar sight at Citylight market where he shops everyday. "I am a non-vegetarian for 365 days of the year," he told a colleague during his visit yesterday. "The fisherwomen here like me because I don't argue. I give them the money; for instance R300, and tell them to give me as much as that amount will fetch," he said, before he proceeded to buy four slices of surmai. Pics/Suresh KK
Turns out, the man is as selective about what items to purchase for his home as he is about picking cricketers to represent the country. "I am very particular about my food. I know exactly what I want and go for it," he says.
The revelation leads to more insight into Patil's pursuits on the kitchen turf. He loves food so much that he cooks every day. "I even make chapattis," he says confidently, as if it were as easy as hitting a six! Shopping for food and cooking is a hobby and he is so passionate about it, that despite his wife Deepa is 1,000 times better at it, according to him, she hardly gets a chance to cook.
Whenever he is in Mumbai, he asks his sons, Chirag and Prateek, what they would like to eat and rustles up a dish or more. He has taken pictures of almost every dish he's cooked – around 200 – and has stored them on his mobile phone. Cooking provides a break from cricket and selection for the former Mumbai batsman.
Green pitch: This non vegetarian loves his veggies too. Stopping for spinach, he said the shop is the best for green peas. The shop-keeper, as if on cue, immediately said, "Do you want some?" Patil politely declined, saying he still had some left from his previous trip.
Generations of the Patils have stayed in and shopped in Dadar, he reveals. His father, late Madhusudan Patil, a Mumbai Ranji Trophy batsman, would do the marketing and as Patil says, the son has only followed him. The fisherwomen at Citylight market begin to greet him immediately when we enter -- "Dada, dada!"
"Citylight market is the best in the world. I have shopped here for 40 years. The fisherwomen love me because I don't argue. I buy whatever I decide to buy that time, be it bombil or prawns, surmai, or halwa, or clams … whatever. When I buy from someone, the others stop calling because they know I've done my shopping," reveals Patil.
Mutton man: Patil roots for Ramesh's mutton at the Citylight market. He is a second-generation customer, as his father bought mutton from Ramesh too. Patil has carried this mutton to Nairobi and Bangalore when stationed there. Asked about his favourite non-vegetarian pick, pat came the reply, "Mutton, of course." Read about Sandeep Patil's cooking exploits in Close of Play
He then rattles some of their names and their speciality – "… has the best prawns,… has the best surmai," adding, "and here is the spot where ... sits. She's not here today. She's the biggest fighter cock," to the amusement of her colleagues.
Batting for Ramesh's mutton
Proceeding to buy surmai and shrimp, he then moves to mutton. One might think that Patil just shops and cooks, but he even cleans the vegetables, fish and meat himself. His favourite dish is "tandalachi (rice flour) bhakri and mutton." He is all praise for Ramesh, the mutton seller.
He says he has travelled all over the world, but not found mutton of such quality. He even has taken it abroad and cooked it for family and friends. Speaking of the world, he names alligator and ostrich as some of the exotic meats he has tried, but the hardcore non-vegetarian also eats and shops for vegetables.
"My friends love my cooking," he says, but modestly adds, "my life is routine and I have no complaints. I like to lead a normal life like this. I am not doing anything great, but I enjoy it."
The selection done, his bag filled with surmai, shrimp and spinach, Patil heads home, surely with a menu on his mind. For a while, cricket must take a back seat, the green pitch get replaced by the kitchen, and the bat by a spoon. Until the next shopping trip, the next dish.