Its 8:30 PM and I’m sitting in the mess in front of the recently purchased flat screen TV. Its enormous and the sound emanating from the speakers collides violently with the din made by future corporate leaders fighting like savages as they queue up for dinner. There’s no time for elegance and etiquette, you either fight like a mad man for your chappati or end up with nothing but plain rice and a few pieces of carrot.
I’d taken the easy way out and had made it here much earlier than the others. Thanks to my foresight I now had a plate full of chappati’s, panneer, daal and potato. Surprisingly every item on my plate is yellow. Thanks to my foresight, I now wanted to puke.
Bidi Jalyle plays loudly on the TV and the fighting stops temporarily as people stop to admire Bipasha Basu. Any other day, I would have joined the crowd in openly appreciating her fabulous curves but today I’m not in the mood. The alien food, the noisy music, the lyrics I don’t understand and the “Saale Be.. Ch..! Choo..! Maather Ch..!” uttered like a mantra as the fighting resumes depresses me. As if reading my thoughts, my friend Naganathan, also an import from Chennai remarks “First thing we do tomorrow before the others come is set the channel to Sun TV and then hide the remote. Lets see what the Sardar’s do then!”
I grin at the thought of Gurpreet Singh sitting perplexedly in front of a Vadivelu comedy scene. It somehow helps me make my mind. I push my plate away and ask Nags “ I’m going to Krishnasagar for food. Coming?”. He declines, preferring to watch Bipasha’s legs. Unlike me, he finds the food quite palatable.
I pick up a book from my room and head out. I’m one of the few people around in IMT who would go alone to a restaurant. I don’t always need company, a book will do perfectly fine now and then.
I’m heading to a place where I’ve practically emptied my life’s savings. Hotel Krishnasagar is a 10 minute walk from the campus and it’s the only place I can get curd rice. A plate of dosa and curd rice will easily set me back by a 100 bucks but I don’t care. I’ve got a little left in the bank after which I’ll collect alms from my family and friends.
The waiter greets me with a smile. We’ve almost become good friends. He already knows what I’m going to order but waits politely anyway. I order a dosa and a curd rice and he nods knowingly. He leaves with my order and I sit back and read my book.
My food arrives and I admire the virgin dosa as it sits steaming in front of me, long, thin, crisp and pure. I break off a piece and then dip it into the piping hot sambar. I then dip it into the pudhina chutney, the coconut chutney and then into the onion chutney. My dosa piece looks like the Indian flag. I pause respectfully for a moment and then put in my mouth and exhale heavily as the ghee, sambar and chutney blend gloriously and gratify my taste buds.
Next comes the curd rice. Every spoon of it slides soothingly down my throat reminding me of home. Back in Chennai, I couldn’t understand why we ate it everyday. Now I know. It’s the most tranquil food one could have.
I finish my food, pay the bill and head back to college. My stomach is full but I know I cant afford to come back here for a while. No matter. I have a little piece of home in my tummy and its all I need to feel at peace with the world.