It was pretty difficult for us to get accustomed to the south Indian food in the beginning. The lone explanation for that was, we never tasted the actual south Indian food before coming to Bangalore. Like how we eat food from different cuisines, south Indian food gets the identical treatment in North India. Let me enlighten, I am very certain that if you ever stumble upon authentic Chinese or Italian food you will not be able withstand even its smell. We make an Indianised version of it, in plain words; until it’s made Punjabi we can’t eat it .
South Indian food suffers with the same destiny in North India. My north Indian brothers and sisters who have never been to south India will not trust me if I tell them that Masala Dosa is not eaten with Sāmbhar!!! That's true. Before I came to Bangalore I never heard of Rasam and now that's perhaps the most excellent thing I desire .
It was extremely hard for us to get attuned to the food at the same time we were exposed to the hostel mess/canteen. This mess had a very well-known fact; if you live to tell the tale about your first meal in this mess then nothing can kill you food wise!! That's correct. I passed this food experiment with flying colors . The hostel mess was run by a fat, 40-45 years with a little moustache possessor aunty. She was the primary vendor and caretaker of the mess accompanied by “Raju”.
Before I talk about aunty lets know a little about Raju. Raju probably was the prettiest male in the hostel , few guys in the hostel who could not think straight, guys who were member of FOSLA and APAHAS, all had hots for Raju .
FOSLA – Frustrated One Sided Lovers Association
APAHS – Acharya Patashala Association of Homosexual Students (I hope this is right)
I came to know about actual Raju when he started serving the food. Our mess was like, where you go with a plate and they will fill up each section of the plate with different preparations of the day.
So I was as usual, with my plate, always first to arrive at the mealtime, went towards the food counter where we were typically given these choices,
# 1 Dal
# 1 Curry
# Sāmbhar and Rasam
# Papad, if you want more you have to give up curd.
“Raju Khana de”, I said (Give me some food)
And Raju, who appeared hygienic today, had a wired smile on his face . He came forward with 4 chapattis. He kept chapattis in my plate and looked around; I was the only one in the mess and suddenly without any warning he grabbed my hand. I was taken aback by his action. Next moment all creepy thoughts started flashing in my head
“Izzat pe Hamla !!” (Act of molestation !!)
I flicked my wrist with an obvious reflex action and screamed,
“Abay saale tujhe sharam nahi aati kisi ki izzat pe haath daalte huye” (Shame on you, are you trying to assault me?)
And there he is smiling yet again!!
Later on I learned that he had taken such shots on countless guys in the hostel. He got abused badly sometimes, some people even started thrashing him and there were times when he got lucky too
On one auspicious day aunty and group prepared a special meal on the event of Diwali, “special” signifies the one sweet dish which can be used as the weapon of mass destruction. I am sure if you hit someone with that it will strike hard and recoil back to you and guarantee of elimination of the target is free . I started eating the meal cheerfully and then I saw one stunning, adorable, little but not so desirable cockroach waiting to cut loose between the pongal (Khichdi). I am talking about a breathing creepy-crawly in middle of my food. It was my first time and therefore I was very annoyed. I went directly to aunty to exchange some blows. I showed her my plate and yelled,
“Ye kya bakwaas hai” (What the hell is this)
Aunty, “Kya hua beta” (what happened son)
“Aray ye cockroach nahi dikh raha kya ?” (Cant you see the cockroach)
It took practically about 3.25 seconds to alter the expression of her face from normal to expression of grief with a tear and she responded in god knows version of Hindi,
“Cockroach nikla to mai kya karne diya, itne logo ka khana banta hai cockroach gir gaya to mai kya karne diya”, (What can I do if there is a cockroach in the food)
I was enraged but then a dementor, Shah came and calmed me down. He said that things like this happen frequently here and you can’t help it. He even said that it’s famous in this canteen that if there is a green leafy curry on the menu then there is most likely a branch is missing from the close by tree. I comprehended that quickly and was never troubled about any pest from that day. I just used to set them free before continuing with the food.
One fine day when aunty was serving, I asked “Aunty thodi subzi do” (Give me some Curry)
Aunty looked at me but was busy with something. Her right hand was over her left shoulder and it was moving up and down, up and down, up and down. I requested another time, “Aunty thodi subzi do”
This time she noticed me and relieved her right hand which came back to regular position to hand me out some curry but as her hand came back from her left shoulder to front I figured out that while she was busy in doing a routine of up and down, she was doing it with the help of a ladle (The big spoon which is required to serve the curry). And then in terror I saw that ladle go straight into the same curry which I was asking for. The same fucking ladle which aunty just used to scratch her ugly sticky back. I swear I could not eat the food again in the mess until I saw aunty leaving to her hometown and someone else was in charge.