ಬಾಳೆಹಣ್ಣು ಅಜ್ಜಿ – Balehannu Ajji

About ten years ago, an old woman I lovingly called Ajji, brought the sweetest bananas to our doorstep every day. We conversed every morning while she rested for a couple of minutes at our front yard. She told me about her hour-long bus journey from her village to the city and all the interesting characters she came across, the breakfast her daughter-in-law made and her grandson’s everyday mischief.

She commented on local politics and developments gossiped about in her community, and with the most sincere admiration, she would appreciate them or with the most innocent shock she would dismiss the facts.

After I moved to a big city, bananas were never a part of my diet, probably because the idea of buying bananas from a store didn’t sit well or that I had gotten accustomed to other, more trendier snacks. The only time I would use them is to make my weekly banana bread because it was a good on-the-shelf snack . Toasted with a little bit of butter or microwaved till soft and fluffy, it was my favorite evening snack with a hot cup of tea.

In fact, my best memories with banana bread involve hot cardamom or ginger tea, toasted bread, views of cascading blue skies and Bangalore’s brilliant weather throughout the year. This city is now home, and as I start to build new memories, I realize no one can take Ajji’s spot. No  one, with a hundred wrinkles narrating various adventures, can still have so much innocence that she would glare into the camera’s lens wondering how a small peephole can capture her image.

I learnt that she passed away a few months ago. I wish I was there to pay my respects and thank her for showing me what humility is.

Paying homage to this beautiful lady, I created this dessert. A chia seed pudding topped with a Rasayana (a salad of banana, shredded coconut, sugar or jaggery and cardamom) ice cream and banana bonbons.

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