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The Masala Ghost

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 49

It’s late Friday in a rainy town centre and unnoticed the fleet of takeaway delivery riders are out on their bicycles sharing the road with a few tired and distracted cabbies and the “I’m not a drunk driver, I’ve just had a few pints with the lads” types.

They are the new unnoticed, supposedly part of the new economy and enjoying the freedom of choosing when to work.

Does anyone even notice them anymore or care about them?

Unless of course the take away doesn’t arrives in time for the big movie.

They have become so much part of the scenery that nobody even notices the Indian chap dressed up as if it were 19th century London and carrying curry, not in an ugly square rucksack with a logo but on a silver tray.

An enthusiast might think that smells a bit odd, that’s not a proper curry as we know it today and it’s not sweet like chip ship curry either. It’s more herby and less spicy, possibly no cayenne pepper and no chili’s.

Something that the characters from Vanity Fair may have eaten or what someone in 1811 might call a genuine Hindoostane dish,

Some people have seen him speaking; “Sake Dean Mahomed is pleased to serve the ladies and gentlemen of this house that are desirous of having India Dinners dressed and sent to them”.

The phrasing is a bit odd, it is not 1970s sit-com racism just the way that someone speaks a foreign language and has been told to appear exotic.

Apparently he is talking to himself though as he just stops, turns to the wall of a house and pretends to knock on a door and be greeted.

At other times if you were to notice this man at all you might think even less of him as he isn’t always carrying food, so unkindly you might just think “another weirdo!”

If you had passed him earlier and are seeing him again you might think that oh he has delivered his load, just another person doing what is needed to pay the rent.

Sadly cars have crashes with delivery drivers, this is rare but not unknown and horse drawn carriages can reach 25mph if the coachman is a bit mean and reckless and yes a bit drunk.

Suddenly things are starting to seem more familiar again, rain, booze and takeaway deliveries and like many who laughed at delivered fast food there were those who laughed at the new Coffee House in Marylebone that was selling Indian Food.

The first London restaurant guide The Epicure’s Almanack was written in 1815 by Ralph Rylance so nobody knows what food from that Coffee House would smell like.

Possibly similar to today’s curries? And the delivery men where just as unnoticed then as now.

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