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Posted at: Jul 15, 2019, 6:43 AM; last updated: Jul 15, 2019, 10:17 AM (IST)

Rumali roti served with a twist

Rumali roti served with a twist

Johnny William

In the remnant bungalow of the colonial era — now meant for the bada saheb — the lingering residual of the post-colonial hangover is the memsaheb of the top police officer. A symbol of aristocracy, quaint elegance of the bygone rajwada era and high-bred etiquette, the memsaheb thought of something unique to add class and grace to the occasion. Décor, ambience, green lawns, lilting soft music, waiters in regalia, yes, it has to be the hallmark of sophistication. And food and wine in the glorious league of the ruling class. The trump card was rumali roti. 

But Jammu, a sleepy town of the epoch 1970s, has not come of age. In police jargon, the man Friday is none else but the SHO — the deliverer. He is summoned by the memsahib, who anxiously asks him to arrange for rumali roti. ‘Yes, ma’am!’ the SHO replies with a gasp, clicking his heels as he trots off. 

What is this mysterious rumali roti! All the dhabas and semi-hotels are checked. No clue. It is now time to panic, the question of izzat and also saving your neck! The SHO quickly calls his trusted core team to decode the rumali roti. Meanwhile, the bada saheb calls the SHO. ‘Everything okay?’ The SHO slurs with a choking voice, ‘Yes, Sir!’ Amid the impending doom, one of the cops hits upon a brilliant idea. ‘I have got it, Sir. We will get two dozen brand-new handkerchiefs and stack fresh chapatis one after another.’ As if a straw to a drowning man, the teary-eyed SHO embraces him. There is hope.

Gathering his wits and swagger, the SHO now marches to the bungalow with a neatly packed box containing the rotis. At the dinner, the distinguished guests reach out for the rotis. Enchanted with the style, and taking it to be a local ethnic tradition, they even complimented the memsaheb. No whiff of a scandal, just a grand finale to a successful dinner!

The SHO, however, is miserable, waiting for the axe to fall. But all is still and silent. He is hit by pangs of anxiety, waiting for the hour of reckoning. Finally, he is summoned to the bada saheb’s office. Trembling, he walks in like offering the scalp under the guillotine. Rumali roti he will never forget in his life. But instead of the expected heavy fire, the bada saheb sported an indulgent smile. ‘Well done, great work. Rumali roti was a great success. All the ladies were impressed. In fact, there is a dinner coming up, and once again, you will have to organise it — the rumali roti!’


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