Sometimes when I am at home I make myself a lassi. It’s a delicious drink made with yogurt and fruit that I discovered in India.
I prepare it for myself because, as many Indians reminded me while I was there, it’s “24 hour power”. If you feel low or are a bit tired, lassi is a powerful boost. Or it might have had a sexual connotation, as if to say “you can now have as much sex as you want, 24 hour no-stop”. Whatever they intended to say, lassi takes me back to the incredible trip I had in that colorful country.
I actually had my first lassi in Nepal, in Janakpur, that being a border town has many similarities with India. It was delicious, topped with pistachio. I still remember it. I was attracted by a small group of people surrounding a man that was serving a yellowish drink in tall glasses at a street corner. At the time I didn’t know it was the first of a long series of lassi.
I had lassis basically everywhere, but a few are still in my memories. One of the best lassi was in Varanasi, in a place quite famous (was mentioned in the Lonely Planet), a bit difficult to find like everything else in the labyrinth that is Varanasi. But if you walk around town you surely stumble upon it sooner or later. Calling it “famous” makes me smile a bit, because to the western reader that has never been to India, the word “famous” can evoke the image of a posh place, like a western ice-cream parlour, but this one was just a tiny shop along the road, with a guy sitting on the floor mixing and mashing the lassi in some containers. “Blue Lassi Shop” was the name of the place (I remember it now because I found the picture and renamed it with the name of the shop). I don’t remember if here you had the option of banana and plain lassi, or only banana. But I remember very well that I always had banana. The best.
Than another great one was in Jaipur (or Jodhpur? can’t remember). This was actually a true shop, where you could sit down and enjoy your lassi. And you could choose among various flavours. It was very hot in Rajasthan, and lassi was a life-saver.
One lassi made me sick. I was in Kolkata and bought one by a street-vendor. I forgot to ask to have no ice; I knew very well that tap water in India is absolutely to avoid, but because I didn’t want to be impolite, and had survived one month in Nepal without getting sick, I drank it. Big mistake. I was sick in bed for about one week. But this sorrowful event doesn’t undermine in the slightest the beautiful memories I have of Kolkata.
Because I have shared many lassi-moments with other persons, lassi also reminds me of the people of India. They are very curious and like to talk to foreigners and hear their stories; for this reason they can be a bit annoying, chasing you with questions, quite often the same ones; but for this same reason they are very welcoming, they invite you to their house and to their wedding; and this is how you should approach lassi and India: with an open heart and mind, and you will be rewarded with the best of the experiences.