Sweet taste of Durga Paan

Sweet taste of Durga Paan

16Chewing Paan is very much a part of Indian culture. It is a cultural and social pastime in India and South Asia.

In fact paan’sshort-term benefit is, it aids in digestion especially after meals. One may chew a paan to relieve stress and boredom or digestion but I chew paan for the very pleasure it provides after a hearty meal.

In India you have a paan shop at every nook and corner of a street. It is rare to find a paan shop in Sydney. You won’t find one in any street corner at
least. But Paan lovers in Sydney need not be disheartened.

You have DurgaPaan right here on Station Road, Harris Park. And the man who serves the paan, traditionally known as the Paanwala, is Sanjay the owner of the paan shop. Besides paan one can also have Falooda and other custom made soft drinks. Yummy.

One night on a Saturday, I walk in and order 4 paans. Sanjay is ready to fast serve his paan customers. Like Mc- Donald’s he has everything ready on the table waiting for the customers. He is usually manning the cash register but the moment you order a paan, Sanjay is ready.

He quickly moves to the paan shop. He has a dozen fresh heart shaped betel leaves in three neat rows on the table, ready to go. The betel leaves
have a slathering of light brown catechu (a paste made from acacia), lime and nuts all ready on them. He deftly adds little quantities of shredded
coconut, cardamom, fennel seeds and a spoon of Gulkand, a thick preserve made from sugar and rose petals.

Work done, he neatly folds the betel leaves with the contents in it into a triangle and wraps it in a small palm sized baking paper and tops up the wrapping with a Durga paan flyer and quickly puts all in a plastic bag. All this done quickly, expertly and in a professional and seamless operation and hands the bag to my eager hands. Preparation of paan is a work of art in the hands of Sanjay. Meanwhile, my salivating mouth can’t wait to have a crush on the paan.

I quickly get out of the shop turn the corner and in the darkness of the street I pop one into the mouth. Once in. Wow.

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