I remember Jogappa Shanbaug, a frail fair man clad in a dhotar and Bombay Ganji, would peer at his customer as if to ensure that the customer knows what he wants, and he has heard the customer exactly right.
“Kaadige beku” I had asked, for homemade kaajal,
He got out a wick and some oil and taught me how to make Kaajal,”telling me not to waste money on stuff when better and safer product could be made at home.”
He had guided my mother in making the traditional “Bananthi maddu,” or the post partum nutrient supplement.
There are times when he would enquire what do you want it for? Of course we would state it, and if he thought right he would dispense, if not he would give what was right.
When it came to formulas, ingredients and their qualities Jogappa Shanbaug has been an authority. I know so many Ayurvedic students quietly cross checking their texts with him.
He would tell, us which of the fragrances were best when dispensed in water, which needed heating. He also gave us those small sachets to be placed between clothes so that there would be lingering fragrances on the clothes.
Directions were very easy–“You turn at Gundu Nayak’s shop at rathabeedi, till you cross U.L.Achar’s house, then a little further to Alevoor Kini’s house, you can see Ram Bhavan and Jogappa shanbaug was right opposite.” If one did not know these landmarks, he was considered ignorant. By the way none of these had any signboards till recently.
Today his son manages the store, but the wafting aroma of herbs and ingredients is the same. I still love going across, Ram Bhavan, inhaling the aroma’s of the strictly no-onion, no-garlic restaurant, and then this heavenly aroma of medicinal herbs, the immediate neighbour being the Venkatrama Temple better known as Konkanera-devasthana, and the road ends into the poornaprajna college.