Earlier, all I had to do was open my mouth and food would be available. But as a hitchhiker, finding food to eat did become a little difficult
Ishant Kumar Singh Jadaun, 23 years, Traveler, Hasanpur
Interviewed by Poorva Dinesh
Why did you decide to speak on food?
When I used to go hitchhiking, I used to get very hungry, but there was nothing to eat. I used to be low on cash so I always gorged on street food. I tripped on samosas…first from one vendor, then another, and then from yet another vendor… and it felt so good! And I guess that’s why I decided to speak on food…
Do you think you took food for granted before you started your stint as a hitchhiker?
Earlier, all I had to do was open my mouth and food would be available. And then as a hitchhiker, finding food to eat did become a little difficult, and that hurt… I am not sure it hurt. I think I realized it’s not easy to get food. In fact, at one point, I used to take food from a dustbin and eat, and it just didn’t matter because I just wanted to fill up my stomach.
Has eating from the dustbin for instance changed you in any way? Probably in the way you perceive things…
No, it hasn’t changed me… (thinks hard). At first, I used to hesitate to do something like that. This is not how we have been brought up. But I was penniless and hungry and when I saw someone else eat, and leave behind leftovers, it felt alright to eat it.
Having been through this, I don’t think you ever waste food. Or do you?
I try not to…
How important is good food to you?
I love street food. I don’t like food in five-star hotels. I went to a five-star hotel to have biryani. It was okay…but if I could get six vada pavs instead, I would have been in seventh heaven. Vada pav and chai…make it six vada pavs and twelve cups of chai – enough to be in seventh heaven (laughs).
Do you have a girlfriend?
Okay. It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. If a girl makes super delicious food for you, do you think it’s enough for you to fall for her?
No…my friend’s mother makes really good food, but I don’t have any such feelings towards her (all laugh). No, there are a whole lot of other things that make me fall for a girl.
What is your favourite food?
Favourite dish… Chai! I know everything about chai. I will be able to tell you where you can get different kinds of chai or where you get good chai. I was once staying at a place 55 km away from my town for about 15 days, and I didn’t do anything there except for drinking chai. I used to leave to go out at 11 am and come back at 7 pm and I would spend my time drinking different kinds of chai. I had a cycle with me…I would cycle around and have chai and biscuits over and over again. That was great fun!
How many times can you have chai in a day?
I can have 25 to 30 cups easily.
Is it because it’s easy to fill up your stomach when you are travelling with no or very little money?
No. Chai is an obsession. My parents are teachers. When I used to be alone at home, I used to make chai for myself all day.
Do you think you can make tea better than most other people?
I think so.
Do you know how to cook?
Yes, a little.
What can you make?
Soya bean subji, arbi subji, jeera aloo subji, baigan ka bharta, upma…
I don’t think the girl who marries you needs to cook…
I will tell you something…after my first kiss, I strangely thought of my mother’s rajma chawal and how I eat three plates full…the kiss also felt something like that. I felt full after the kiss (all laugh).
Since you are always travelling and have so much street food, have you ever suffered from a bad episode of an upset stomach?
Not yet…I have had no problems so far…
What does love mean to you?
Love is like a jolt that hits you and makes you fall. You just don’t understand anything after that. There’s nothing like it.