Paan khaye saiyaa hamar , like my player was stuck on replay whilst I walked the elderly streets of Aurangabad. An Aurangabadi friend drew me in his BMW a.k.a BB (As his sweet little son would say it) to a paan gully at night, all the shops had varieties of paan to offer. I had a small roll of beetle leaf with lovely stuffing of chunna, supari, gulkand, coconut, fruit preserves and cherry etc the moment it stepped in to the world of my mouth I ran back to the era where chewing paan was a custom of the royalty, where the Queens and Kings had special attendants carrying a box with the ingredients for a good chewing session I felt how it would have been. We drove back home but next day I planned to know more about the lane and the pan served their. I was a little skeptical as that area was born with the birth of Nizam’s so were the chacha’s and topis. I was worried that they may not be able to accept the fact that a woman is clicking pictures and get sleezy comments. So I very timidly stepped into one of the famous shops, Tara Paan Centre and ordered for one Paan and the menu was way green and startling it had Paan from rs.50 to Rs. 3000 I immediately asked him what’s that you put in Teen Hazar walla Paan jiska naam tha honeymoon special “there was a custom to chew supari (areca nut) and Paan (betel leaf) among lovers because of its breath-freshening and relaxant properties,this trend led to honeymoon special Paan. Very timidly Imran chacha told me "woh peheli raat ko pyaar jatane ke liye yeh paan bahut taaqat deta hai" (Isssshhhhhhhh)
As I built the conversation people around became very welcoming affable and respected the fact that I wanted to learn about the Paan more than eating. He offered me 4-5 different Paan’s and I wondered what bill am going to make I told him “chacha I cant eat so many “chinta nako,aap khau sehat ke liya accha hai aur mere taraf se hai” they were still too many and too heavy to be eaten. Slowly I managed to get my camera out and asked him if I could click. He was more than happy to see me with the camera. There came a small man on a big cycle and said “Chahca Humko sardi hui hai zara paan khila do”
. On this chacha made a immediate crack to roll a Paan with sizzling lavang. Every Paan had a better cause than mouth freshener or sweetener. People there actually depend on Paan for medicinal purposes too and also serving paan is a sign of hospitality which I too experienced with warm smiles.
With all the efforts I stood and saw Imtiaz the Paan Man from inside called for me and showed me the mansion of Paan and how they made them to export. The business they ran was not only for the Aurangabad Paan lovers they are spread all over the world and sell their paan in UK US Australia Dubai and turkey etc. The packaging is done in such a way that the pan doesn’t loose its life for next three days at least. Imtiaz was a kind man with red tongue and warm heart. He told me all about the varieties and the love people have for their Paan
“we make Paan for upvaas also with loads of dry fruits and mava” with that he made one for me Ufff!! It was real heavy but I knew if I had that I could go for the whole day without any food.I had my dear fotog friend pratik with me who made this ride even more interesting. As I took a stroll around the shop and pumped my lungs with lovely beetle leaf whiff I came across a Dabba with a very rural Indian feel to it and picked it up as a souvenir. And I acted like I won the title for Miss World when Imtiaz bhai packed 5-6 packets of Paan garnished with fresh rose petals and loads of love and memories for me to take back to Mumbai. This is what I like about my travels more than bags of shopping I have filled my bags of memories