Oberlin Blogs

How To Be a Paani-Puri in Obieland

April 7, 2022

Aishwarya Krishnaswamy ’23

Local paani-puri stall
My local paani-puri stall in Mumbai.


Pani-puri (paa-nee - poo-ree) is one of my favorite Indian street-side snack-ish! It's one of the big reasons I take a 24-hour-long flight back to Mumbai, India (seriously, that good!). As you can see in the photo here, it has a crispy hollow base filled with the yummiest sweet and spicy juices and potato filling. However, the best part about a paani-puri is standing in the middle of a crowded street in Mumbai and choking on a paani-puri, giggling with your friends, and also asking for the 'sookha puri,' which is the dry dessert version of the paani-puri (wet version) at the end of the shenanigans. 

Ok, cool, what does this have to do with Obieland? 

So, now that we have established the mighty goodness of paani-puri, I will lay down what it means to be a paani-puri in Obieland. 

1. Puri (poo-ree): Puri, as mentioned above, is the crispy base. To make a paani-puri, the base needs to be hard enough to hold everything together but also just flexible enough to puncture a manual hole in it with your thumb to add the fillings.

Oberlin also feels like it's too small or too big (?). As a first-year student, it's easy to feel like this place is almost hollow and so full (with opportunities) at the same time. My advice, pick a few things you care about so you can puncture a hole right in and find activities and people you belong with. 

pain-puri base

2. Potato mash filling: The food at Oberlin… boy o boy can be something. But if nothing goes right, you can always count on some mashed potatoes, green beans, maybe potato fries, and scalloped potatoes. You get the point. Just keep an eye on 'em potatoes. 

3. Sweet & Spicy chutney: This is the best part; Obieland is literally sweet & spicy. I have found some of the sweetest, kindest, and wholehearted humans on this land who are spicy and fired up with their ambitions to do well for themselves and the world. This is a place where people care about you right from the moment you step in (and before & after). I have had my share of spiciness here, but the sweet, joyful moments make it all worthwhile. 

4. Sookha-Puri (suu-kaa): Much like in the street stalls in Mumbai, you only get a sooka-puri if you ASK for it. Similarly, Oberlin is a land of opportunities that only brings you closer to your purpose if you go SEEK them and ask for help when you need it. So don't fear reaching out to resources like SHARE on-campus to help guide you while navigating Oberlin.  

Me looking sly/happy
That's me looking all happy/sly after remembering to ask for my sooka puri.


P.S. If you go to Mumbai and don't eat paani-puri, we're not friends anymore (I'm only half-joking!). 

Me eating kala Khatta
That's another happy me eating kala kahta, another Mumbai fav of mine.




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