Study Guide

The Hundred-Foot Journey Part 1, Mumbai: Chapter 2

By Richard C. Morais

Part 1, Mumbai: Chapter 2

  • Hassan gives us a slideshow of "happy thoughts" (2.1). His memories continue to be a mix of vibrant food smells and images (pink mass of lamb brains, anyone?), along with life in Mumbai, which is compared to cockroaches scampering across shellfish.
  • Bappu is one of the head cooks in the restaurant and he acts as Hassan's first culinary mentor. He takes the boy through Bombay's Crawford Market for supplies, where Hassan's senses are overloaded with the color, smell, sound, and texture of food.
  • Hassan especially remembers the ravens that flap and crow from the rafters over the market and the droppings that fall on the stalls and even on the fresh meat (gross). He makes his first reference to his future life, stating that these birds remind him to stay "close to the earth" (2.11). Yeah, no kidding.
  • Hassan's favorite stop is the fish market. Anwar, the mystical fishmonger who spends his days peeling fish surrounded by his cats, has a sixth sense for telling the quality of his fish, and gives the young boy lessons.
  • Hassan's makes his first mark in the cooking world when he steps into a family argument over an old chicken recipe, and the result of his contribution is that the dish becomes a bestseller; it gets renamed Hassan's Dry Chicken, which doesn't exactly sound like a compliment to us, but we're figuring is supposed to.
  • Hassan now tells us about spending time with his mother, who has so far stayed out of the story. Mummy is shy and smart, the counterpart to Papa's boisterous ways; although Papa is the man of the house, Hassan credits the smooth running of things to his mother's quiet influence.
  • Mummy takes Hassan with her into town to shop from time to time. She likes to shop for scarves and look at pretty things, and one day, they try a foreign restaurant named La Fourchette. (Yes, it's French). They ooh and aah over "exotic-sounding dishes like bouillabaisse and coq a vin" (2.61), and Hassan's mother encourages him to try something new.
  • Flash-forward: Hassan is now fourteen. There is trouble on the horizon, and it is inching toward the family, who are overstepping their class-boundaries. Papa starts hiring "clean waiters" (2.71), as opposed to workers from the slum, to cater to their middle class customers; he turns away poor workers desperate for work.
  • Papa's character as a businessman is shown more as he feeds the workers he turns away as "insurance for the afterlife" (2.71). He's a man who is going to do what he needs to do for business (which usually results in making enemies), but wants to keep everyone happy as well. Not good.
  • A newspaper features a cartoon of Papa feeding on cow's blood and accuses them of causing the suffering of the poor. The cartoons keep showing up and Hassan describes that at this point they "were not of the shantytown, or of the upper classes […] but lived on the exposed fault line between [the] two worlds" (2.75).
  • Hassan gives us a picturesque memory of a family trip to the beach. He recalls that his mother never looking more beautiful, and his siblings running up and down the sand with Papa while his mother and auntie sit on a blanket in the sun.
  • Disaster strikes before long, though, when Bapaji, the patriarch of the family, dies on a hot summer afternoon. Along with him dies the family's safety, and a mob comes to attack the Bollywood Nights two weeks later. They storm in and torch the restaurant, killing Hassan's mother; Hassan recalls smelling her body burning. It's beyond rough.
  • Hassan's journey through food continues as he tells us that the only thing he remembers after his mother's death is a "ravenous hunger" (2.86). She is buried hours after passing, and Papa bellows loudly as she is put into the ground.
  • Papa vows on his wife's grave that he will take his children to a new place; for their part, the children hide from Papa's overwhelming emotions. The smells and sensations Hassan associates with this time are all disgusting—vultures, body odor, cigarettes, and more.
  • Papa loses his patience with Mama's snooty relatives; when he kicks Ammi (Grandmother) out of the house, she responds by shrieking and clawing at her own face.
  • Bappu, the trusty cook, resurfaces in the story as Hassan's quiet guardian and puts his arms around the teenager to protect him from the scene.
  • Flash forward a few days:The stretch of land Bappu had bought back in Chapter 1 is now worth a ton of money. A man arrives at the door offering them a lot for the property, so Papa weighs the option heavily for a few days and then accepts. The old world they knew is sold and gone, and the family becomes homeless millionaires.
  • Papa, the six kids, Auntie, Uncle Mayur, and the grandmother get on a plane for England. Hassan's first impression of this new life is as a spongy and tasteless piece of white bread—no flavor, not substance.