Venkatesh Iyer begins with taking you through the experience of eating a vada pav. He describes the fluffiness of the pav, the crackling hot vadas or golis and the teekha and meetha chutney that we all so love. The book contains quotes, Bollywood references, excerpts from the book that the author has read, personal anecdotes and they are all put together to explain Mr Iyer’s thought process.
Have you ever given the humble vada pav its due importance? It is a snack that is ready in minutes, it is mouth wateringly delicious and you can have it on the go. I must have had a million vada pavs in my lifetime yet I never paused to give it much importance. But there was one man, who saw its potential and who wanted to make the vada pav eating experience for millions of consumers more hygienic and tasty. My Journey with Vada Pav is a story one such man.
My Journey with Vada Pav lives up to its name and takes you an actual trip down the memory lane filled with wild dreams, hopes, aspirations, fun, laughter and sometimes tears and anger. It takes you though the nuances of the food industry, the frustrations that a young company and its employees can go through when things are not going their way, how friends can up with some brilliant ideas (case in point: Goli Vada Pav’s famous tagline of being Vada Pav No. 1) and how things start going your way if you persist and work hard enough.
This book also a great way to understand the pulse of the company as each and every reason for taking a particular step is described beautifully. Venkatesh takes us through his reasons for expanding in Marathwada, coming up for newer variants for the North and the South, supplementing the Vada Pav with additional region specific snacks and so on. When he describes a particular situation you start understanding how it really was to be his in shoes back in the day.
An interesting aspect of this book is the little nuggets of words of wisdom that are written at the corner of each page. The book is well written on the whole but at some point of time, I felt that the continuous Bollywood references and use of quotations increased the length of the book unnecessarily. In certain parts, the book is too verbose but then it manages to get on track towards the end. Tighter editing would have made it a breezier read.
Overall, My Journey with Vada Pav has its heart in the right place and is a good book to read as you sip on some chai and grab a bite of Mumba’s favourite snack of course! J