The Tiffin – a story by Mahtab Narsimhan

If you are a book lover like me , you know what an incredible feeling it is to come across a great read when you least expected it ! I have mentioned a few books in the past wherein the stories revolve around food. Looking back I think such books played a huge part in my apparent interest in food. I would love to open books that I had already read just so I could read those lines again that described a particular dish or food.

As a young child many of those foods were alien to me … Brambles , treacle , pop biscuits ,red currants , grasshopper pie … some purely fictitious even. But that’s the great thing about reading , it did not stop vivid images from appearing in my head. Many a time those images were so real that it would set off the water works in my mouth. How I longed to be perched on the boughs of the magic faraway tree picking large yellow lemons…yes Enid blyton had a whole lot to do with teaching my mind to conjure up and get excited about a variety of treats !

It’s only recently that I’ve had the opportunity to explore food fiction by Indian writers. And , I must say they do not dissapoint , not one bit ! If any ,they create a craving because a lot of the foods are so familiar and unfortunately for our waistline ,well within our reach ,geographically 😉

A lot has been written in praise of the famous dabbawallas . From Padma Lakshmi in Planet Food  to The Lunch box  movie ,these tireless heroes of the streets of Bombay are showcased with respect. I came upon this book at my local book store. The name at once suggested a sort of affinity to the Mumbai dabbawallas …what got me curious though was the picture of a young boy. Now ,I didn’t know if they employed boys this young to be a part of such a complex food delivery network. The snippets on the back cover suggested a story about a note in the ‘Tiffin box” …I know !!!… you’re at once thinking of the movie , so did I.

The story however unlike the movie is not a romantic one , it’s more of a poignant tale of a young boy who like many try to make a living in a city like Bombay. The ‘tiffin’ is not just a part of his story , it is the very core of where his thoughts are day after day and night after night. The hardships he faces and the pain that he must endure does not in any way keep him back from what his heart truly desires….. A sense of belonging.This is what he yearns for …. the story entwines itself around the work done by these white capped men and narrates how much more goes on just beneath the busy surface ! A simple but heartwarming read.

Thankfully Mahtab Narsimhan has steered clear of scenes torture and abuse (which we have come to expect these days) , from stories of this nature … I am happy that it’s a book that my teen can read . My favourite parts are of the Parsi gentleman and his lip smacking food. It brings a a much needed lightness to the otherwise sorrowful state of  young Kunal.  Do read it , if you get the chance to :)

Tiffin with tiffin box 001

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2 Responses to The Tiffin – a story by Mahtab Narsimhan

  1. Radhika January 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

    Tell me about it! Scones and clotted cream were part of my childhood dreams (and sorely disappointing reality, when I finally had them!).
    Will look for the book. Sounds really interesting.

    • Shanthini Rajkumar January 26, 2016 at 9:22 pm #

      Haha… Thank you !

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