Another Gasuddin story.
When I first interviewed Gasuddin, I nearly didn’t hire him. He was a small, whippy looking man with jet black, straight hair and the pencil thin mustache of an old time villain. You know, the kind that tied young girls to railroad tracks. There was something a little bizarre about mustaches in Bangladesh; our houseman had a Hitler mustache that always made us feel a little uncomfortable.
Anyway, at the time of the interview Gasuddin was employed driving one of those decades old, Greyhound-like buses on the Dhaka-Chittagong route, over 130 miles of incredibly bad roads. The bus left at sun-up and made it into Chittagong a little after dark, if lucky. Gasuddin would have a quick meal, sleep for a few hours, load up the bus with passengers and in the wee hours of the morning, return to Dhaka. He had driven this route for about 5 years every single day and you can understand why he was looking for a change and more money; it is criminal the way the fat cat owners of taxis and buses pay their drivers, leading them to shake down passengers for extra money just to survive. Knowing this, I was concerned about 1) his heretofore survival tactics 2) his most likely use of drugs to sustain him during those grueling and often bus-breaking-down-constantly trips. Just as I was getting set to let him down easy, Gasuddin smiled. He had the sweetest smile, like an innocent, happy child! I was dazzled and he was hired. I never had reason to regret my decision, although there was an adjustment period….
One day, Gasuddin dropped me off at the British Club for lunch with a friend and went on to run some errands for me. Just as we were finishing up lunch, one of the waiters told me that my driver wanted to speak to me. We had this huge, wine colored van and it was jam packed with Bangladeshis! Totally bemused, I asked Gasuddin what in the world was going on! He told me he had had an accident with a rickshaw driver and pointed out a barely visible scratch on the van. Because of his excitement, I soothingly said that it wasn’t his fault and that there was no harm done. Still upset, he insisted that the rickshaw driver should have to pay for the imaginary scratch. “Yes, yes”, I soothed. Standing next to Gasuddin was an emaciated, trembling man wringing his hands.
Me: “Gasuddin, who is this man?”
Gasuddin: “Rickshaw driver.”
Me: “Where is his rickshaw?”
Gasuddin: “I put locks on it and left it with a friend.”
Me: “Okay…. But who are all these people?”
Gasuddin: “Witnesses. He should pay!” Pointing his finger at the visibly terrified rickshaw driver.
Me: “Yes, yes.”
Apparently, Gasuddin had arrested the rickshaw driver and all by standers, herded them into the van and brought the whole scene of the accident to the club, minus the rickshaw, for justice.
Taking him aside, I quietly reminded him that rickshaw drivers have no money, in fact they are very poor, not owning the rickshaws but renting them at a daily rate, scraping out a living for their families on the few cents profit they realize after paying the rent to the rickshaw owners. I acknowledged that the rickshaw driver was in the wrong but the bottom line was that he should be pitied and not burdened with a debt he couldn’t possibly pay.
Then, in my Madame voice, I told him to put everybody back in the van, take them back to where he found them and to unlock the rickshaw driver’s rickshaw and give it to him with NO threats, eat some lunch and calm down! I returned to the club, ordered a large glass of wine and spent some more time with my friend, not without laughter, discussing my driver Gasuddin, the dacoit (gangster) with the lovely smile.
I bought this pork roast, at a weak moment from the Kaufland supermarket. You can tell that it’s not French from the slip-shod string job. Little old French housewives can tie a rolled roast! Heck, I can almost tie a rolled roast!
I also wasn’t satisfied with the meat quality. It’s like they had a leftover scrap and decided to let the stock person, a butcher want to be, have a go at tying it into a roast-like shape while they went out for a smoke. Then I, dummy of the first part, bought it. If it wasn’t for honey mustard, this could have been a disaster. Sigh.
Anyway, it tasted good and the peach salsa was excellent!
Grilled Pork Roast with Peach Salsa
1 rolled pork roast, about 2 lbs
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp coarse ground mustard
2 tbsp melted butter
Mix the honey, mustard and butter together, then poke the roast all over with a sharp knife and slather with the honey mixture, setting some aside for basting. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Grill the roast off flame at 400 F, top down for 1 3/4 – 2 hours, occasionally basting with reserved honey mustard mixture.
4 small, firm peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tiny purple onion, chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
2-3 tbsp lime juice
1 serrano chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp sugar
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.