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Saga of Sovereignty : Culture & Cuisine

Happy #IndianRepublicDay2023! The 74th Republic Day celebration of the Sovereign Socialist Democratic Secular Republic of India spans the nation in person and digitally. This is a quick reflection that celebrates a vignette of culture and cuisine relished first hand this morning at a celebratory breakfast as Vineeta, my beloved and I stepped out as proud citizens across the road from Tardeo, Mumbai to Nana Chowk a little more than a kilometre away.

With a school Republic Day celebration over Zoom and after mandatory morning devotions and newspaper scan it was decided that we step out for breakfast at Shetty's at Nana Chowk. Little did I realise that there would be a delicious taste of the Republic.

Shri Murlidhar Hegde is from Udippi and is the co-owner, server and chief story teller at this wonderful restaurant on an otherwise busy traffic junction. Seth Murlidhar Hegde worked at Vikrant Tyres for many years with final posting in Mumbai. His father-in-law started this establishment "Shetty's" that is now run by Murlidhar's wife and supported by the family.

The narrative began with a story telling elegance that my Speaking Mentor Roddy Galbraith of Maxwell Leadership drool. The simple and captivating explanation of why one should enjoy the breakfast combo of a small idli, a medu wada, a spoonful each of upma and sheera he convinced us was the right riot of taste in our moth. Choic of a dosa or uthappam with filter coffee or chai made it just right. Sitting there i heard the narration around seven times, each time with same grace, passion and conviction. Sales effectiveness of a beyond MBA level was seen when almost no one chose to order anything but the combo!

Murlidhar Ji was happy to share with pride that Lt Cdr Disha Amrith from his region was leading the Indian Navy marching contingent on Kartavya Path even as we were enjoying the delicious fare. The conversation drifted to careful choice of ingredients to the times some five decades hence as batter for idly or dosa was different and gound in stone pestles. Then plan to consume such a fare was done two days earlier for correct preparation, fermentation and emergence of the taste. Today the dosa or uthappam is neither an Udippi or South Indian delicacy, they are Indian dishes.

Murlidhar and his wife shared their day routine and the joy of connecting with students, teachers (many schools nearby) and evening crowd as they connect through this beautiful symphony of culture and cuisine in a bust street corner. What a personification of our Republic and its Sovereignty!

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