Picture a bloke that looks like a fashionable desi Jesus, long flowing locks and a West Country accent as thick as the clouds that hang over his corner of England. Niraj Gadher, owner of Bath’s Chai Walla restaurant, had a dream. One that has made shtick-searching samosa sellers around the world bellow, “Why didn’t I think of sending a samosa into space!”
Gadher comes across as unassuming, affable, and considerate enough to write a note for any aliens that chanced upon his stratosphere-bound samosa. In this troubled era of galactic proportions, he looked up to the sky and said, “You need a samosa,” and he was right; only it was us, the little people that speckle this earth, who needed to see a samosa soar across the horizon, spectacularly failing to find extra-terrestrials or peckish Greek gods, just a bewildered Frenchman.
The story starts with Gadher’s first failed attempt to send up a samosa (and a wrap), by not attaching the giant helium balloons properly to the styrofoam container holding the snacks. As the cargo-less balloons wafted away, his expression was that of a child who just had their freshly scooped ice cream cone snatched away by a seagull. The second time he failed, he didn’t have enough helium in the tank. His countenance, then, resembled a man on the brink, an empty stare gradually zoomed in on by the camera crew… he looked devastated, that is until he started sucking up the remaining helium in the canister on-camera. The third time, to the sound of an impassioned speech by Gadher, the balloon and samosa floated off together. But he didn’t activate the GPS in time, and the samosa went off the grid as it rose through earth’s atmospheres, Gadher hanging his head in shame.
Fast forward a day, and the GPS activated in Caix, France. Gadher took to social media, asking local Instagrammers if they would be kind enough to hunt down his crash-landed samosa. Enter Axel Mathon, a Frenchman who thought Gadher’s DMs were part of an elaborate scam until the idea seemed so fantastical he couldn’t resist searching for the centrepiece of this prodigal plot. Armed with GPS coordinates, he found the styrofoam box outfitted with a GoPro in the countryside, though the samosa seemed to have been previously enjoyed by a wandering vache. The retrieved footage, however, was stunning, the snack gleaming like a golden constellation in the blue sky, and even neighbouring a passing airplane for a time.
If anyone on that flight (or curious Martians) happened to see this floating fried benefaction, we can only hope they appreciated the humble gesture, a triangular aloo-stuffed symbol that speaks to the strange dreamers that pepper our planet: minds that might not be destined for interstellar adventures, but are more than capable of curing the world of its claustrophobic blues, even if just for a few minutes.
Julian Manning can usually be found eating a crisp ghee roast with extra podi. The rare times his hands aren’t busy with food, they are wrapped around a mystery novel or the handlebars of a motorcycle. He is Senior Assistant Editor at National Geographic Traveller India.