Don't mess with the poha

Updated: Feb 02, 2020, 08:25 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

The President of NPR, Batata (potato) Poha started the proceedings with pomposity, 'I would demand that you show us your proof of citizenship. Do you have the required documentation? Aadhar card? Voting? Driving licence?'

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da CunhaThe traditional 'poha' was pi**ed off. He puffed up his yellow chest to its full size and exploded—'I'm having a grain...sorry brain fade! How can I possibly be called Bangladeshi? That minister is crazy referring to us as immigrants? I have been on the breakfast table of millions of Indians for years. In fact, I am as much a common man's food in Maharashtra as the vada pao... my relatives are scattered all over the country. Now, I'm accused of belonging to another country! I fully protest."

A quick convention was called, comprising the five-member committee called NPR—National Poha & Rice—to understand this major issue that Poha was raising.

The President of NPR, Batata (potato) Poha started the proceedings with pomposity, "I would demand that you show us your proof of citizenship. Do you have the required documention? Aadhar card? Voting? Driving licence?"

His deputy, Dahiyanche (curd) Poha, said in subservient agreement, "Sir is right, plus your ingredients do not match the conventional dish—No coconut, no potato, no peanuts…I think you are an illegal Indian!"

The traditional poha, went ballistic—"Oh God, you regressive idiots, with your old fashioned notions of food…hiding behind all these nonsense garnishings—move with the times, man, less is more, I am a vegan poha. My brother is a gluten free poha…we live in the present, not like you has-beens. Ask the kid here."

The kid in the group, Gadanche Poha (beaten rice with jaggery), said nothing, just put up his protest banner—'Poha! Be 'woke' ya!', it proclaimed.

"Children should be seen and not heard", the horizontally challenged Batata Poha said.

"Not anymore, Uncle. My Gen has a new abbreviation, #PoHa, which stands for the Power in our Hands. Too late to lecture us anymore, the young have spoken. Got it, Uncle?"

Doondache (milk) Poha said weakly, "Let us vote to decide if Poha should be sent to Bangladesh or allowed to live in India."

Poha was appalled. "You all are true frenemies. I'm taking this issue to a world forum, to GRAIN (Global Rice Asian & International Nations) to ask their opinion."

And so, they came from all over, the head of every conceivable form of Oryza Sativa gathered to decide Poha's fate.

Saffron rice from the Indian sub-continent, Red Cargo rice from Thailand, Black rice from Philipines, Coconut rice from Kerala, Arborio rice from Italy, Sticky rice from Japan, Chinese fried rice from every country, even Mutton and Chicken Biryani both from Byculla, walked to their seats arguing.

Mutton Biryani said aggressively to his chicken counterpart: "Chicken Biryani is the Kenny G of biryanis—dull, tasteless and not even the real thing."

After days and days of deliberation, no consensus could be reached as to whether poha was Bangladeshi or desi.

Finally, an exasperated Poha said, "Enough is enough. I'm starting my own organisation, with two partners. I'm calling it BJP.

"'BJP', the entire congregtion asked astonished, "what does BJP stand for?"

"Basmati Jasmine Poha," he concluded.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul.

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