routes & roti - pt I

Curry goat gurus and mango lassi listeners: conversations in the takeaway shop and musings (ft. roti joupa 🇹🇹, lahori falooda 🇵🇰 and mama vics 🇳🇬)

Routes and roti, reflection - about SO much more than what’s captured on this plate. Part of a series, just threads at the moment; trying to distill the magic of Hospitality and what these moments mean to me. The people inside, the exchanges, conversations - all strangers but mixing our chuckles sharing joy for the same thing.

Where does that genuine care for what a stranger orders come from? Wanting them to hit-the-spot as if it lied within. Your joy is my joy, only eating well if in it together - moment we step in, let down our guard coz belly ready, off grid.

There’s always some sort of guru ready to advise you on what to get. Some recent below: Charles in Mama Vics- “get the oxtail; you can get jerk chicken anywhere” and I trust him. Because it’s “almost every day” that he comes in:

Another guru - Kashif in Lahori Falooda. He even offered to buy my meal. (It was an on the house curry and naan from Rauf so there was no need):

PHD geneticist turned IT specialist, now cricketer and body builder - lots of protein in the salty lassi shake. Who’s aboded in Pakistan, Scotland, Berlin and London - and, his side-advice today: “its really very difficult to do exactly what you love in life”. It was at that moment I realised; this is what matters - not the conquering of “life’s mysteries” - but how we bump each other along the way and feed each other’s plate.

I love that we ask each other, trust on such an intimate thing. Recommended someone to get the sorrel juice, 30 mins later, we’ve all got one, sipping it. That’s what we should be grateful for when we walk into eat:

And back to Roti Joupa, where the inspo for this reflection takes place - a little Indian lady (moved from Deli to Richmond) squealing "Ive been waiting 20 years to have goat in this country! It’s what we grew up on, give me a duck double! no veg today!", zooming round with excitement all over the place. "You’ve got to go to places like these”, she tells me with, with passion that reminds me of a child’s animation character - “real mama knows (Mrs Singh certainly does), no fancy place”.

“If you can’t get excited about stuff like this then what’s the point. Feeding yourself - it’s about feeding each other, you helped me with what to order, reciprocity is the way".

I felt like it was a future me, a reminder not to let your fire for the small, dim. Little did she know I’d be saying exactly the same thing. Reminded me of my mum, especially when her white husband walked in - "man got cash - more brown on the inside than me!" orders sweet after sweet, intrigued by the menu turns round gives me a taster of everything. The sour tamarind - "we used to eat these in india after school on the streets!"

What spaces like Roti Joupa clapham can do in a city; the power of infection when it bullets childlike connection between strangers coz they’ve come for a roti at 9.30pm on the same day -

A man getting goat roti for his mum who has dementia ("this is real island food"), skateboarder kids come for doubles, a group of hockey lads come for a latenight stuffing, a cornish kombucha maker come for bussupshot paratha and chicken curry with his gilfriend, a man who didn’t have anywhere to sleep. Someone who orders loads someone who says when offered free pholourie, "no thank you, only eat what you need”.