There we are. Us and our kind friends. Eating at this roadside joint in Matunga one Sunday morning. Idlis, Dosas and such else, elbowing for space with quite a diverse population. Gujaratis. Tamils. Malayalees. Sikhs. Marathis. A smattering of a mix of languages, heard amidst the universal food chomping. So very Mumbai.

Usually, there is a crowd. Today, is no different. Infact, far more pronounced. The pavement is blocked. Nobody cared. Everybody standing and chomping away at varieties of dosas and idlis. “Chilli Cheese Palak masala dosa”. ( That is one dosa). And such else.

Everybody standing in his or her bathroom tile space and chomping away, with the ferocity of a marine commando and focus of a nuclear scientist on the verge of something big. “It is better left to conjecture”, would be the truthful answer, if you , the ever intelligent reader posed a question like : “Are you sure that you ate only from your plate ?”

It gloriously reaffirms a curious hypotheses that’s been playing on the mind : national integration is best achieved through the alimentary canal. Yeah.

It is at that time, we hear a sound that pierces through the din of incessant order taking and chomp chomps.


Whiplash. Theres this small kid. Barechested. With bones and a scatter of bones to show for an upper torso and a colourful flowing skirt kind of clothing beneath. Today, he has an accompanying well built lady, who works on a drum to beat up some music, as this chap beats himself up. After whipping himself up,walks up to the well rounded uncle, and asks for money.

Now, obviously, people who are midway through the delicious cheese palak dosa could have a consternation of sorts just as the dosa is nestled between the tongue and the right cheek.

For, here is a drumstick contoured body, whipping himself up, and asking for money from a pumpkin contoured body slurping on cheese palak dosa. That is sure to serve you a platter of guilt and even as the dosa descends.

The man standing next to me emits noises that go like “chomp chomp ‘standard’ chomp chomp ‘guilt’ chomp chomp chomp…” and other such incoherent sounds. It wont be far from the truth to assume that he didn’t think of this as anything beyond a standard ploy to cause guilt and therefore make some money.

His wife makes similar noises amidst what seemed to be an effort to swallow one lump of a potato I Or whatever it was. And proceeds to let whoever who cared to listen know, that this happens EVERYDAY, letting go of a burp. Ofcourse, one isn’t sure, if the lady is speaking of the burp or the whiplash.

Another gent while plunging what appeared to be a truckload of ghee dripping Kesari down his throat, makes similar noises. The sum and substance of which translated to : “This is a standard ploy. The whip doesn’t touch their body. It’s the noise of the whip as it hits the road.” By now, the sheera had sunk in. Silence follows..

My friends, kind as they are, immediately buy the kid a plate of idli-vada. Much to the consternation of others there. There are hush hush whispers. However much the ears perk, nothing much can be clearly heard. Between the chomp chomp and the hissing whispering all that come to the ear were, “spoiling”. “No other work”. “Big time drama”. And such else.

General public sentiment is palpably evident.

The kid, on his part, picks the idli-vada plate and vanished.

In a short while, we hear the ‘Phataaak’ again. (That ‘short while’ is a large expression for a fleetingly transient moment).

The kid is with the whip lash vengeance. God knows where the idly vada plate went. Theories abound that such items are quickly stored in a vessel that is kept nearby, of which there is no corroboration. Yet.

Inbetween the dosas, there is now a glowing arc of evidence and vindication in the conversation.

“See see, Eating couldn’t come in the way of business. These jokers who feed them are the real idiots. Lets focus on the dosas. Aren’t they delicious ?” Now, they didn’t say all that. But surely, you get the drift of the arrow piercing comments, just as the dosas disappear from the plate and perhaps find a good homely place in the inner recesses of the fat on the hip.

Our friends, by now, a tad guilt free, concentrate on their dosas.

Amidst all this din, is an old man, who uses a cane and his wife to prop himself up on either side. He is a clearly old and retired uncle. (The normal practice here : every man or woman who sees you as older to him or her, has the prerogative to call you ‘UNCLE’).

This uncle, with a certain level of work to his ageing vocal chords spoke, like a Mark Antony presiding over Caesar’s body.

“This kid here whips himself up publicly”.

“I wonder how many people whip themselves up privately and work on a job that they don’t quite like, but do so to make a living and pay off the loans and EMI !?! “

Half a dozen throats that splutter and a cough. Dosas getting stuck in the esophagus like a traffic snarl due to a traffic signal malfunction.

Many metres away, as if on cue, the kid let go of another whiplash.

“Phataaak !”

11 thoughts on “Whiplash

  1. Abs Brilliant …I could be wrong but this has to be Mani’s Lunch Home ? I’ve seen those folks in cars/standing-around gobbling stuff…..

    Some folks
    in bleached
    exercising whites,
    dark minds,
    and salivating
    in Sambaar
    And some,
    a brown supple tree,
    that draws from
    the Earth Mother,
    its energy,
    its sap,
    its tone,
    and a great hunger,
    to absorb,
    and disseminate that,
    to the
    member leaves.

    The Phataak kid
    has more
    core competencies,
    an excellent
    family credit rating,
    sense of sharing…..

    Divali Bonus, anyone ?

  2. Neha says:

    hmmm, I have seen them doing that many times. whether the whip hurts them or not, you for sure feel pity. you feel like stopping them or helping them with money or even food! I don’t know and never even tried to find out about what happens to them after the whiplash! it’s scary!

  3. For some it is also a way of worship. I read about it in Dan Brown’s novel.

  4. ♥ Braja says:

    You’re making me hUNGRY~!!

  5. Insignia says:

    Kavi, an interesting view point here. Most of us whip ourselves privately to sustain and to pay off those EMIs.

    About this kid whipping himself up in public, if he really has to earn for his livelihood; I believe there are much painless chores he can do.

    Is anyone forcing him to beg? I do not know. But its sad.

  6. Jeevan says:

    It sense everybody, but very few lean to help, because there heart says. Whether it’s true or lie, they touch our heart by whipping.

  7. nsiyer says:

    First, you need to make amends for not visiting me having come to Matunga. Not done.

    Phataaak to the Diwali time of PHATAAKA.

  8. poorni says:

    This is so heart-touching and congrats to ur frens who stood up for wot one has to :))

  9. radha says:

    I don’t quite understand this method of begging.
    I guess people get immune to the beggars at eating places .

  10. RGB says:

    Your description of people chomping away at the dosas & idlies and the boy phataaking himself for money / food….is just too good. Though, it is unfortunate that the boy has to do that (voluntarily / forced to?) for a living!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.