Mar 20, 2007

People 2: Gourmet Glimpses


It was a soup stall. “Pasumai Thamizh Soup Nilayam”. (Translated as “Lush (could also mean evergreen/refreshing) Tamil Soup Stall). All of four shiny stainless steel pots and a burning fire. The radio in the bus blares. The health ministry ‘s awareness broadcast. “ Insist on clean utensils and covered food”.
A man in spotless white behind the 30-inch frame . There are no customers. But he is busy. He places one pot on the fire. Opens the lid just enough to insert the ladle. Stirs. Deliberate circular movements. Removes it off the fire, with a towel whose whiteness would put a swan to shame. His hands move at rigid right angles. Robot-like.
Puts up a new pot to heat. Bends down to inspect the surroundings of his stall. Clears a little dust here and there. Pushes a scrap paper aside.

Is this perfection? Or a novel method to tide through the lean periods of trade?. Is it his first day at work? Who is he trying to impress? Am I getting impressed? Would I prefer his soup to the one at Subway? How long will he be able to do it? Wont he get bored soon?

Satisfied with the ambience, he gets back to his kitchen. A few yards away, a potential customer relieves himself of his fluid waste.



A dingy market corner. A rotting wooden box. Upturned. Spreading behind it is a huge figure. Squatting on the ground. Dark and hideous. Perspires in gallons. A fiery fire on the pump stove. With sweaty palms, he pulls and pushes. The dough is putty in his hands. Magic pours out his fingers into the bubbling oil. Hot jilebis. Orange spirals of sheer delight. A motley clientele waits. Mouth watering. He pushes aside his messy curls. The flesh of his dark bulging arms reverberating with the effort.

The jilebis look tempting. My mother can never make such good looking ones. Such craft. In such a setting. Perhaps the sweat and the grime adds to the appeal.
Yewww… how disgusting can I get!



The last one about the jilebis is second hand. Was related to me by my mother. But the closing commentary is solely mine. The reaction of course, was hers.


catch 22 said...

Me first....Nice :)

musafir said...

Haha ... the name boards at a few of these places show their owner's sense of humour.

Anyway, I've caught myself wondering if such eateries are the ultimate test of one's sense of objectivity, you know. How much does everything else matter? Eat and leave. Don't look around. Or smell, for that matter.

@catch 22: Romba over :-)

catch 22 said...

@ Musafir - It would be a rare occasion that I would be the first cos I come to office so late...todaty I came pretty early hence the hurrah..

The Soliloquist said...

catch : thanks... and congrats on being the early bird !

musafir: yeah.. but the repurcussions on the digestive apparatus also need some consideration.. :-p

Karthik said...

Bah Bah - to heck with hygiene (i cant even spell it). I can add more to the list

PaniPoori's on the roadside - 6 pooris for 3 bucks with plenty of paani. If u can speak broken hindi, u get some onions with ur filling too :))

Barottas in Muniyandi Vilas - Those hot steaming barottas served with chicken gravy(sans the chicken). How many of u have eaten in the VSP/Muniyandi Vilas/Highway Inn near our college ? They served amaaaaazing barottas and omlettes. And u know what - our last univ exam was on a afternoon - we ate in muniyandi vilas and went to the exam - a testament to the food there eh ?

And the mother of them all must be TASMAC . Each time when we drink "sarakku" bought from TASMAC, we blink again and again - to see if nothing has ever happened to our eyes !!! [:)] And forget those fancy pubs which serve lemon juice with a sprinkling fo alchol for 250 bucks - TASMAC serves the real stuff !!!

Wow - u made me both hungry and thirsty !! Heading over to the Bhajji shop near my office (!!!)

Anonymous said...

Yer blog reminds me of few scenes i read in mulk raj anand n rk narayanz short stories :)


EnGeetham aka "My Song!" said...

Actually, I agree with karthik - some of the most sensational food are served by the roadside. I still recall, a long time ago, eating steaming idlis at 7AM with Sambar sloshed on the top of it; and then those Pani-puri stalls.. Somehow the grime seemed to add to the immunity of the system ;) But more aware one becomes, the more choosy one gets, misses out on all the basic, but tasty stuff.
I know a HoD in a medical college. She used to say this: Its so amazing that pregnant women who are in the 'manual labour' (no pun), just go missing one day come back the next day after giving birth. Its just the affluent who seem to have all kinds of problems. I wonder how many of the folks who eat at Muniyandi vilas or PTSN fall ill of dysentry or food poisoning the next day !
So, my point is that the "consideration of digestive apparatus" is over-rated ! :)
ps: added some to the media-watchers couple of days ago.

rsubras said...

after a long time ya :) nicely written one..... sooper change u have done to ur blog, does not hit hard at the eye as it did earlier...... :)

The Soliloquist said...


how was the bhajji ?? :-)

however I meander, its their genre of writing I relate most to.. :-)

True, I used to envy the kids playin by cooum river, and their robust health, when I was hospitalised for 3 months on multiple illnesses... The greatest disadvantage of todays lifestyle is the under utilazation of natural defenses against diseases...
Skimmed the media blog, cricket again! after all the hype and hoopla... :-)