Fuska my umpteen desires

    23-Oct-2019
Kamal Baruah
With Diwali round the corner, can sweets be replaced with spicy fuska? No matter what doctors’ say effective prescriptions, fuska is with us all the way
As the autumn festival is gripping on, people go with celebrations along with a dinner at the end of the day. They even drive a long distance at resort for a bite. When it comes to street food, India is one country that’s known worldwide for its scrumptious, cheap and easily available street delights. One must try aloo-papri-chaat at least once of those plates of street yummies. From Mumbai to any remote places of India, there is one common thing about those umpteen numbers from chhole-bhature to aloo-tikki, vada-pav, pav-bhaji, poha-jalebi etc. And people simply loved it. The saying goes that’s the heart of eat what you love, love what you eat. Food lovers try for a different taste and hoteliers have tough time to serve them during festive times. City dwellers expect a lot of hospitality from them. 
Among others, fuska is one incredible, delicious street food. A tangy mixture of boiled gram and mashed potatoes are used as the filling and the water is sour and spicy. I wondered when we’re offered fuska at banquet hall from a luxury hotel in Guwahati as complementary starter. A large mouthful of fuska, energy drinks and tandoori made our holidays very sweet. We were delighted by food quality, service and overall experience. My friends on social media have responded the uploaded FB event hilariously, probably they are avid foodies. The huge responses at fuska have delighted me to write in this festival of light.
I’m afraid, my serving air warriors might not agree for encouraging fuska for a treat as it’s out of bounds in defence establishment. There’re incidents of catching fuska-eaters at outside of AF Station Tezpur by Senior Medical Officer. Station Routine Order cautioned Air Force personnel including families for those food restrictions. Those were the times of harsh military discipline. Is fuska harmful to health as it contaminated with harmful chemicals?
During training we used to get washing facility for anything of inventory clothing. They used to bang our short nap shortly after lunch inside the billet shouting our last three digits service numbers. Dhobi comes for delivering cloths by calling the code. The warm clothes have still reminded us the smell of soda detergent over our surrounding. Though Dhobi Ghat provides our laundry, it’s always out of bounds for trainees. Surprisingly we were not permitted to cross the boundary wall because they were selling mouth watering panipuri too. But we managed every time, no muss, no fuss.
Finding a rented house in Gujarat could face nightmare as tenants are to face tough question from the landlords “Are you a vegetarian?” I had to control my non veg desire during my stay. Locals are strict Vegetarian. Forget fish, they don’t even eat egg. The only Sunday market in Jamnagar opens for fish and meat. Even eggs are not sold openly. Ironically Non Veg restaurants are out of bounds for defence personnel. There were no Swiggy, Zomato or Uber Eats on those days.  Probably we were deprived from roasted/grilled kebab. The hardship is still being faced at Kota even today which I could come to know when my daughter saw her teachers’ happiness at Allen. It threads the meat on skewers and grill over a gentle heat. Outsiders saw happy with tandoori, kebabs and fuska is all the way in Guwahati.
Western people usually invite guest for a dinner. We also fall accustoms with wine and dine culture since our service ethics follows Royal British Air Force. Even with IAF today, anything for regulation that has to wait 28 days because a ship took 14 days to reach London and another 14 days to return after taking approval from the Queen. Assamese invite guest for Akhaj (a meal) together and that is a lunch well known for everybody. Assamese cuisine provides fresh vegetables and an abundance of fish and meat. The main ingredient rice led to staggering variety and flavours of Non Veg in the Assamese Thali. But I was totally disappointed while I had dinner at my friend’s home in New Delhi. All was not well as my hunger in my stomach saw only Rajma recipe and a spoonful of Basmati Rice. Mr Jain was strict follower of vegetarian food. They don’t even take onion.
Today after a decade of my retirement, I found that out of bounds is no longer relevant for me as a banker.  Soldiers are taken care inside campus by providing mess facility. During journey they taste varieties from various stations. There were adventures of going outside Howrah station for fried fish while at 30 minutes stoppage. Foujis are unstoppable. They know the importance of every railway station they travel. Who can forget a small plate of savoury snacks chaat. Delhi is a place for worth trying to taste different flavours and spices of India. Chennai is all about dahi vada, idli and chambar. If you aren’t sure what to eat, then go with Jelebis and kulfi at Chandni Chowk.
With Diwali round the corner, India prepares for festive mood.  The significance of gifting sweets is an integral part during the festival of light. Can India celebrate diwali beyond sweets? There are traditional savoury dishes available.
Since India is the diabetes capital of the world. Can sweets be replaced with spicy fuska this time? The entire Northern India celebrates eternally with ladoo, so do our lives with fuska, my umpteen desires. Fortunately my better half doesn’t care much for restaurants. For her cooking is no stressful. No matter what doctors say effective prescriptions against illness caused by bacteria, fuska is with us all the way. Let there be any numbers, our kitchen is guest-ready always. There are more to diwali than merely sweets. Golden fuska is surely as much a part of the celebration as the mithai. Lets’ bang street food fuska in this diwali.
A freelance writer based in Guwahati. He is a former Air-warrior with IAF and currently working for SBI