Of Mosquitoes’ Toes and Wampfish Roes

Pop Culture

Of Mosquitoes’ Toes and Wampfish Roes

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza/ Arré


wo years ago, my family and I were dismayed at the prospect of the Parle Biscuit Factory in Vile Parle shutting shop. When we first moved to Mumbai in the late ’80s, we lived in an apartment block that faced the landmark plant. On most days, we’d abandon our game of Monopoly or our attempts at mugging up Shakespeare to sniff out what was being cooked up at the factory. “It’s Kismi Toffee bars they’re making today,” my mother would say, as a sweet caramel aroma wafted across the railway tracks. Another day, a nutty scent would linger in the air, and we’d agree that a fresh batch of Parle-G biscuits was being baked. Living there was almost like being inside a Roald Dahl book.

So I knew exactly what Charlie would feel like when he’d pass Mr Willy Wonka’s giant chocolate factory on his way to school. “And every day, as he came near to it, he would lift his small pointed nose high in the air and sniff the wonderful sweet smell of melting chocolate. Sometimes, he would stand motionless outside the gates for several minutes on end, taking deep swallowing breaths as though he were trying to eat the smell itself,” wrote Roald Dahl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964.