From Pakistan to Paanchori‬

10650026_1459460877664212_8932857839790368497_nToday I came to the local computer shop to draft some official letters that would be sent to Police headquarters. Whenever I do something that needs brainwork, it makes me hungry just as Michael Jordan after a Lakers-Chicago Bulls basketball match.

Being hungry like a horse, I was wondering what can I eat apart from the regular Daal-Maach-Vaat and “Murgir Mangsho”. I asked the operator, “Where can I grab some good food?”

“Sir, you must try the Jogai Biriyani here, the best in the world”-the operator replied.

“Huh??” was my reply. I could do with best-in-the-area certificate but “world’s best” was a bit too much to handle.

“Let’s see”- I took the operator with me. After walking 5-7 minutes I came to a small stall under a tree, not very impressive. I wanted to avoid eating there, but gluttony got the better of me. To taste, I took a small bowl where the owner gave me a few spoons of Biriyani, one small piece of chicken and a littlebit of salad.

I took the first spoon in my mouth. Then the second. Then third. In no time the bowl was finished and I was ordering three full plates for me, my bodyguard and the operator.

10622903_1459460734330893_1104872089769668019_nThe biriyani looked a bit like Khichuri but the taste…oh boy!
If Mozart had the opportunity to taste this, he surely would have dedicated one of his symphonies to this biriyani!

After finishing the unsung masterpiece of culinary art that costs only 30 taka a plate, I started talking to the maestro-Mr.Jagannath Sarkar.

“Where did you learn to cook like this, Sir, and what the hell are you doing in Paanchori??” -I asked.

Mr. Sarker acknowledged my compliment like Beethoven acknowledges a standing ovation. Then he told his story:

10628071_1459460790997554_4854624054564740213_n“As a kid I used to help my mom in cooking. To support my family, I went to Karachi as a restaurant boy back in 1988. Soon my cooking prowess was noticed and I became a cook in one of the biggest restaurants of that area. Situated opposite Mehmaan Mosque near Bolton Market, Goodwill Haleem and Biriyani shop was my employer for 13 years”.

“One day, I was late in work so one of my bosses was not happy. Its not that I faced discrimination all the time but what he said that day changed my life:

Tum Bangalee logon ki saath hum 71 mein jo kiya woe theek hi kiya

10593078_1459460654330901_678468976535623354_nI instantly decided to leave Pakistan and come back to Bangladesh. I would rather starve in my motherland than bear such insult.”

“You left your 13 year career just because of that?”-I asked.

“What are you saying,Sir? He insulted my Desh!”- was the reply.

Previously I was impressed by this man’s cooking charishma. Now I was blown away with his sense of patriotism and self respect.

Patriotism is not only wearing a uniform and carrying a gun. Neither is it making false promises and delivering baseless dialogues in talk shows.

Sometimes, a more authentic definition of patriotism is doing what you can, with whatever little you have.


Proof Reading: Zinia Azmi

First published: 27 August, 2014