The raindrops softly strike your hood.
Your shoes soak as they splash in puddles. The water jumps out and falls back on to the ground; the sound of its collision hidden through unison with the sounds of all the other raindrops.
Through your foggy breath you see that avenue of light, the little fuzzy square getting bigger and bigger. You smell the fresh breads popping out of the tandoor before you see them. You hear people talking, laughing, conversing; waiting.
A portly man with a mustache — the only one on a chair — turns to you as you approach. You greet him with a smile and nod, which he reflects right back at you.
“Do kulchay” you say: two kulchas.
He passes the order down to the bakers inside and the start rolling your dough. You see them take a circular disk with holes and press it down on the rolled dough. It’s pulled up and the dough falls, now with uniform bulges. It’s passed on to the next person who dips his floury hands in slightly white tinted water and spreads it onto the uncooked kulcha, moistening it. He dabs his fingers on a bowl of sesame seeds, collecting a few on his wet fingers and then spreads them onto the bulgy face of the kulcha. He picks it up and plays hot potato for a while, expanding its radius. He places it face down onto what seems like a small, hardened cushion and then swiftly slaps it inside the tandoor.
You can see your kulchas stuck to the wall of the brick oven, their visages shining from the light of the flames below. They expand as the baker picks up his two long sticks and puts them inside the tandoor. He uses one to loosen the naans from the wall and jerk them onto the other, making a small hole. His elbows flex two more times and a row of three rotis rise out of the tandoor.
The seated stout man pulls a sheet of newspaper out as the baker lowers the row of rotis onto it. He quickly picks them up and folds them, placing them into a plastic bag and then handing it to the old man next to you. The venerable man counts his coins and then drops them into the seated man’s palm before taking his plastic bag.
You switch your gaze back to your kulchas. Expanded enough to collapse under their own weight, one is poked with a stick and then lined up with the second. The baker drops them onto the sheet of newspaper and you look up.
“Kitnay ho gaye?” You ask how much you have to pay. A formality as you come here daily and purchase kulchas whenever you have cholay at home, which is at least once each week. You pull out your wallet and hand him three crisp ten rupee notes, taking your bagged kulchas in the right hand and replacing your wallet in your back pocket with your left hand.
You turn around and put your hood up, the rain has gotten faster and the air cooler. You pull a steaming morsel of the bread out of the bead and place it in your mouth.