Bow-wow for the idea

Updated: Dec 17, 2018, 08:00 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

An innovative pop-up turned out to be a fantastic example of compassion for and co-existence with our four-legged Bombaywallahs

Fiona FernandezFor a while now, the city has been witnessing a buzz around culinary pop-ups. And being called the melting-pot of communities has meant that foodies in Mumbai get a hearty dose of diversity to choose from this plate, make that platter actually. The range has varied from Assam to Khandesh, Punjab to Kerala, and it's been good so far, with plenty of scope for more.

Recently, we were egged on by a fellow animal-lover to attend one with a difference. It was going to be an Iyengar-themed pet-friendly pop-up. Intrigued, we signed up for it without even blinking. This was sure going to be fun, we egged ourselves. After all, it takes some convincing to drag yours truly out of her home turf for a meal on a Sunday morning. Nestled in one of the quaint, leafy lanes of Dadar Parsi Colony, we had reached our Everest. The 'Beware of Dogs' signage at the door meant that we were at the right home.

Barely were we greeted by our hosts, that a four-year-old Labrador give us his version of a welcome. A barking ovation, plenty of tail-wagging, and a bit of smothering later, we made our way into their home. The cuddly, adorable fella insisted on escorting us all the way to the living room. Meanwhile, another doggie, a handsome stray with a gorgeous black-and-white coat and deep-set eyes, was having his mid-morning nap in a corner of the home. Turns out, he was the resident stray from the area, and was adopted by our hosts when they came to reside in the building. We could see how our hosts' children loved the two as if they were all siblings.

It was time for business. The canine cuddle fest would have to be stalled for a while. And as if on cue, the two knew they'd have to wait for their next rounds of TLC.

From crispy medu vadas to mini idlis (read: cottony drops of heaven) to bisi bele bhaat and curd-rice, all of which was served on our banana leaf-lined plates; we tucked into the yummy veggie brunch with single-minded focus and planning, reminding ourselves to save room for every course. Anyone who's sat for a pop-up would know that OD-ing at the start isn't a good idea unless you have an elasticised tummy. The multiple chutneys, sambar and rasam were to die for. The crunchy companions, crushed banana chips and pappadums added to the joyride.

All this while, as rounds of this mouthwatering fare were being served, we noticed how the two pets didn't make the guests feel awkward or distracted. It was as if they had seamlessly woven their roles into the session. In fact, they were extremely comfortable with new arrivals into their home throughout our time. And later, as we moved to the living room for bowls of delicious jaggery-laced payasam, they felt it right to mingle with their newfound friends. It made for a wonderful frame as the entire group posed for a photograph, with both showstoppers hogging the limelight.

In most Indian metros, compassion towards animals is hardly considered an important factor from a societal viewpoint. Strays, especially, tend to get treated with disdain and fear, and often bear the brunt due to misinformation and misconceptions. Ideas like these, we feel, can go a long way in creating awareness among grown-ups and little ones on several counts – that pedigrees and strays can co-exist; how strays make for great pets and how we should have more enlightened souls like our hosts who can play key roles in educating people to be comfortable around animals, thereby offering a great service to society.

A compassionate society is what we desperately need in these hate-filled times, and the positive energies that we experienced at this Sunday brunch with an animal-loving family was a fine example of what this city needs in huge servings. And the delicious meal happened to be the perfect icing on the cake.

mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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