If I presently weigh some short of 100, the most responsible person for this state of affairs is man who before his death, left a legacy of churning out the yummiest and softest Gulab Jamuns you can think of. His name was Tularam, the man who set up the famous Tularam Gulab Jamun shop at Nagina, Bijnor in 1945 at NH 74 linking Uttarakhand’s Garhwal and Kumaon via Nagina.
Nagina though a sub divisional headquarters, is a small town. It is also famous for inlaid wooden craft and the material carved here, is sold out across all parts of India. The sweet shop of Tularam would had been set up of course for the local consumption and particularly for passengers coming to and fro, to the smallish railway station located at the entrance to it. If you are not a local or not aware about the shop in advance, you may easily miss the shop as there are thousands of such road shops in thousand various mofussils and cities over entire India.
I was introduced to this delicacy when I was posted as Sub Divisional Magistrate at Dhampur, a town very close to Nagina. I had a sweet tooth always and 15 years ago was not forever calculating calories while eating these recipes. As SDM, I had a Tahsildar, one Tewari Ji who had mastered the art of VIP duties. He used to stay at Nagina as he was earlier posted there and despite being transferred to Dhampur, continued to keep living there. He was a smart man and a typically successful Tahsildar, by his instinct to judge the officer’s liking and disliking in all fields including food of course. He once came to meet me and as is customary, came with a well packed earthen bowl containing Tularam’s Gulab Jamuns. Uninitiated to the taste, I was oblivious to their speciality. He told me that, I might like those Gulab Jamuns as they were from one of the most famous and old sweet shop of Nagina. I said nothing and did not realise that, that first earthen bowl full of Gulab Jamuns will become my weakness soon and will also add few inches to my waist soon.
After Tewari Ji left, I retired to my house and had dinner. As I used to have sweet dish after dinner daily at that time, Gulab Jamuns were suggested as the sweet dish. I was offered two Gulab Jamuns only. I scooped a part from one of them and kept it in my mouth. As soon as I rolled my tongue over it, it melted like cream. It was really tasty and very soft. I had not ever tasted softer than this Gulab Jamuns despite being from Lucknow, a city famous for food and cuisines. I had more and very soon devoured almost 7 or 8. I would have eaten more if I had not finished my dinner just then. I had few more next day and my wife could get only a few of them. Soon there were no more left.
Tewari Ji came to meet me again soon and this time came with some different sweets and fruits. In anticipation however, my eyes were looking for that sweet earthen bowl but that was not there. Being his boss, I could not ask him directly about that, as that would have exposed my weakness. Our discussion continued for some time over official issues and after some time he left for his office. However, before leaving he asked me whether I had liked those Gulab Jamuns or not? I was perhaps waiting for this opportunity to express my appreciation for those softy Gulab Jamuns. I appreciated them with a conservative tone, but my smart Tahsildar got enough clues about my love for them. He said nothing however and left.
Next day, Mr Tewari was again at my residence in the morning and was this time with an even bigger earthen bowl of Gulab Jamuns. I was really happy to see them though I tried to conceal my enthusiasm. He said nonchalantly that he was coming to Dhampur that morning and in the way noticed the fresh and hot Gulab Jamuns and thought of gifting them to me so that I could eat them as hot and fresh. I was really happy. I came inside the house and tasted few more and realised that fresh and hot Gulab Jamuns were even better. I left for office only after getting enough of them.
Mr Tewari sensing my love for Gulab Jamuns now decided to send them to my house every alternate day. Those were really not so expensive and could not be categorised as any undue gratification and therefore I continued to relish them as often as I could. Little did I realise however that, that was adding a good weight to my body and particularly around belly. The smart Tahsildar sensing my only weakness perhaps, continued to supply them aplenty. I continued to relish them and brushed aside any suggestion of my wife to control my urge. This continued for next one year and by that time I had devoured a lot many Gulab Jamuns. I was not aware that my waistline was also smiling more.
This happy and yummy but calories loaded streak got interrupted only, when I was transferred from Dhampur to some other sub division. I, however continued to get them occasionally by sending my man all the way to Nagina. The cost of getting them to my new place was perhaps more than the price of Gulab Jamuns. Few times when I passed through Nagina during course of my official duties and otherwise, I landed at the shop and tasted them, there itself. Tewari Ji too being a true bred revenue department officer, whenever came to visit me out of courtesy, came with a good load of them. No need to say that I relished them a lot. The habit however eased a bit later on but by that time, I was had put on substantial weight due to them alone. I tried to somewhat control my urge in eating them in the larger interest of my health.
Recently, I happened to travel to Dehradun from that road and was with my family. My daughter who was born around the time I tasted them first in 2000, was also with me. I told her about the shop and its unmatched tasty Gulab Jamuns. She was not keen to taste them however. I still stopped my vehicle and entered the shop. My daughter unwillingly followed me and entered the shop. I was at the shop after almost a decade and was little nostalgic about the place too. I ordered Gulab Jamuns for every body. The taste of them was great as always and I was feeling happy and lucky to have passed through this route that day. However I was shocked to see my daughter ordering one more plate of Gulab Jamun. I was really bemused to see her eating Gulab Jamuns with same happiness as I used to 15 years ago. Was History repeating itself? After all daughters do admire their fathers more. I smiled at the turn of events and left the shop but not before getting a mobile pic clicked in this shop. The Tularam had now made inroad into mind and belly of next generation. What a legacy really!
In fact my daughter still keeps on asking me, ” Papa, when are we going to Nagina again?” I smile at her being my daughter truly and refresh my memory with aroma and taste of Tularam’s Gulab Jamun. Tularam is dead, but long live Tularam, through his Gulab Jamuns of course.