Gujarati or Malayali mess, had been one of the fav destinations of college students, bachelor IT guys or anybody with meagre resources. Consistent like McDonald’s. Fixed menu thalis on a pre-fixed price. Yet, inherent to them is a great culinary divide. Gujrati thali would be a sacro-sanct vegetarian, while Malyali platter would be spiciest extreme non-vegetarian cuisines, the blasphemic ‘beef kebabs’ to mention one.
I belong to a weird Shakta Brahmin family, where we stinkingly indulge on mutton and fish, with selective prohibition of chicken/egg/garlic/onion, and beef/pork. Gradually, we incorporated chicken, egg, garlic and onion but beef and pork still remain elusive.
Once my seemingly orthodox Brahmin dad was invited to ‘Bakr-id‘ ceremony by his office colleague. This was a ‘dharma-sankat’ (religious dilemma) since brahmins never refuse a food-invite and can’t eat in muslim platter in my hometown. Entire brahmin coterie had a closed-door meeting in office, and decided not-to-go in consensus. As I saw my dad pacing back-and-forth, he suddenly asked me to join for a bike ride and sneakingly took me to ceremony where we found rest of the office already gobbling on mutton, some with remarkable ‘U’-shaped brahmin tilaka on forehead. And, all had a boisterous laugh, as I looked in awe!
During my pre-university days, I found a place where we used to get tasty ‘seekh kebabs’ at quarter-the price of others. It was so yummy and cheap, I got addicted to it and took to its marketing to all our hostel-mates. Soon, that shop in small gully in Patna became a rage, till we got to know the mashed meat wrapped in spices was ‘beef’. I was cursed and bullied, and I couldn’t sleep the night with unstoppable retching sensations, as if sin of life had been committed. But, the taste is unforgettable, which I had to satiate myself with some similar smell in Purani Delhi gullies during my medical residency days or Kalyani Biryani in Hyderabad.
Somebody mentioned about an Indian delegate tour in China, where a buffet of 135 menu had some 67 species butchered in different platters. Among Indian delegates, some avoided ‘pork, most of them ‘beef’, some didn’t eat either, and some could find only two of desserts fulfilling their culinary requirements. Chinese ate everything, Indians ate something, and Mr. Jain could eat nothing.
Bhusaval junction in Maharashtra had only two things available on platform, one ‘omelette’ and other ‘bhusaval kela (bananas)’, and most found only of them edible- the omelette. Some vegetarians tried ‘bhusaval kelas‘ only to have most of their remaining journey retching and burping, while most waited for even more food-pauper stations- Katnis and Satnas. Veggies almost starved in steaming heat of second-class boggie in the middle of marble-desert of Madhya Pradesh.
During my short stint in US, my lifeline was ‘hotdog’; I never attempted to investigate what species it was made of, but it again reminded me of Patna gullies.
In some part of India, they eat snakes, and somewhere they eat ‘kutta kheer‘ – a digested rice extracted from dog’s stomach. Yuck!
Some don’t eat potatoes and brinjals. I don’t eat ladyfinger or Okra whatever.
I still visit Malayali mess, atleast once a week, and try to avoid my eyes off ‘saucy red kebabs’ since I am brahmin. I avoid a skimpily clad hot girl since I am father of two. I avoid to pick a fluttering enticing currency from the street since I am Bachhan fan. I avoid smoking and drinking in public, since I am a doctor. I avoid being myself since I am…….a nincompoop, downright fool, godsent epitome of idiocy, narcissistic moron, unwanted clone of Donald Trump, re-incarnate of Gandhi’s gulli-danda partner who could never make it…..hell I am!!