As I shared in Wednesday’s column, I love long travels. This one from Kolkata to Kanpur via Patna and Lucknow further endorsed my inclination. It was pure fun with the highlight of the trip being the road travel from Lucknow to Kanpur.
For starters, it was a drive as smooth as yoghurt. And throughout the 90-minute drive, the 3G signal was as constant as spice in our food.
You’d be wondering why all of a sudden I am sounding so gastronomic in my analogies. The reason lies with Piyush Chawla’s extraordinary hospitality.
Besides being a skilful leg spiner, Piyush is a warm man and a wonderful host. He is from Uttar Pradesh, plays for the state team, and now captains them too in domestic cricket. So, with Thursday’s game being played in Kanpur, he readily agreed to play our culinary host.
Our taste buds were pampered from the Lucknow-Kanpur bus ride itself. Chchappan Bhog is a renowned food outlet in Lucknow and Piyush had brought them to our service. I started my journey with dhokla – warm, fresh and a pure delight. As we shifted gears and hit the highway, it was time for choley and channey ki chaat.
I know it’s a sin for sportspersons to be dipping into all this but then the combination of Piyush’s smile and the aroma of these ‘food landmines’ had all of us falling for them. Yes, including our international guests. I am reliably informed that Simon Katich loves his spicy food. I am not sure about the others, but I know that Chchappan Bhog can now claim that Jacques Kallis has tasted their stuff.
Our man Piyush wasn’t done yet. On Wednesday, he partnered with our team manager Abhishek and presented another round of Lucknawi cuisine sitting in Kanpur. I tucked into some tundey kebabs followed by delicate mutton stew. If there is heaven somewhere, I am positive they’d surely be serving those melting tundeys for lunch and stew for dinner.
Someone suggested phirni as well but we collectively gave up the idea. We all missed our friend Andre Russell, who is injured and has stayed back in Kolkata. My guess is that Russ would have loved at least two rounds of phirni, may be three. He is progressing well and we have a member of the medical team looking after him.
I have been reading reports about Kanpur having its share of challenges in hosting its two IPL games. Yes, there is just one five-star hotel, there is pollution, it is scorching hot and there are multiple layers of security. Despite this, I am sure the fans would love to watch us play. I think we get far too cynical.
The idea of IPL coming to a new venue should always be celebrated, period. The only thing I’d like to see is fans being looked after. The rest, KKR and Gujarat Lions will take care.
With good pitch and small boundaries awaiting, it seems a sumptuous battle is in store. With all that I have eaten in last 48 hours, I better not miss my gym session.
I am heading there but don’t tell anyone that I had lied in the third paragraph of this article. I didn’t need Piyush to smile for me to have any of those dishes. I had already fallen for them.