December 21, 2008

At large in JNU, starved...

I thought Manguli's cooking was the worst fate that could ever befall a potato. Of course, I hadn't been to a JNU mess then. Anna's mess food at St. Xavier's College was of questionable hygiene, but looked slightly more palatable. And then he also came up with occasional delicacies like banana halwa.

One day, I had a bright idea. I took a plastic tiffin set to store mess dinner so that I could have it later. After I had removed the onions from the dal, I wasn't left with much. But what really cuaght my eye was the layer of oil clinging to the sides of the container - it conjured up memories of oil spills on wide oceans, what did they call them...oil slick? Since then I've soaked those containers in a thick solution of water and dishwashing soap thrice, overnight. It still smells of mess dal. Whenever I don't feel too motivated about eating my mother's cooking, all I have to do is go sniff the container. It works better than stories of ghosts who gobble children up.

JNU has conspired to feed us goat poo. If the mess dishes out oil spills, the "dhabas" around campus are no better. I ate the aloo paranthas at 24/7 till I started bursting into tears at the sight of a parantha. And since typhoid, I haven't eaten a morsel there. And even if you did eat there, how much choice do you have, between aloo parantha, dal makhani, paneer and rajma, everything decent on the menu's finished.

Sabarmati dhaba is no better. When I earn some money, I'll donate a bar of soap. The Maggi vessel, well, has been scarred for life by the tortured souls of countless Maggi packets that have boiled to their death in its depths. They also make gaja, though the flies seem to enjoy it more than the pronunciation-deficient people who come and ask for gAAjAA as if it were ganja.

Canteens...Aravali, called the best, अंधों में काना राजा, as they say... the food is marginally nicer than "death-camp" cuisine, but the plates are super-dirty. Everytime I go there, I suppress the urge to scourge the plate clean with my probably grubby handkerchief.

TEFLA, the one time I went there, I figured the sofas look too Egyptian pyramid-like mouldy. No, maybe not. Tutankhamen and his buddies probably knew more about preservation. What's the food like, one daren't ask. Library canteen. I once asked for papad, the guy came rushing with it, it fell to the floor, he put it on a plate, and gave it to me. The dosas come through a window grill that hasn't get the drift.

And the oh-so-famous Mamu's - big price, big benches, big voice, no VFM.

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