February 14, 2009

Those utililty nooks in our neighbourhood

Think aloud this Sunday.
And as you do that let your husband or your child keep a count using the fingers.
Recollect all the useful nooks that you depend on or frequent in your neighbourhood.
You will be amazed at the number, variety and range.
Food tops my survival / utility list.
So how do I compile and expand it?
By looking out for the food spots which remain open at different hours of the day and night and them sampling their menu.
Don't go by the flexi-boards or unimpressive handbills. Talk to the men who run the kitchen.
There is one nook where the parottas and string hoppers vanish by a certain hour, the biriyani is sold out at another hour and what is guaranteed at 9 p.m. is the chicken curry - because it is so spicy that not everybody who orders food here opts for it.
Down the road is another nook that stays open till about 11 p.m.
Rotis and sabji are always available, cooked North Indian style.
On the other side of the road is a Chinese restaurant which is reliable on home delivery on key occasions - when the neighbourhood endures a blackout, when the rain is heavy or when you want the soup at your doorstep in 10 minutes.
This one is hugely dependable and Suren is the man to call, not anybody else.
Between the two roads are many other nooks on the streets and bylanes.
The 'mess' on a terrace with a roof was the only place open after 11 p.m. and its rotis and meat curries were the only saving graces but it folded up recently - patronage by the computer people fell, the woman in charge said.
I have had to tick off one popular place though - visiting friends from Pondicherry who stopped by late at night for dinner were aghast at the minimal prawns in the curry they ordered and walked off in a huff, swearing never to come here again.
I don't think these Malabar restauranteurs want to see me there.
I leave you with a much important question - why does the police force restaurants and food joints to down their shutters at 11 p.m. and then sneak in at the Malabar eat-outs to order packs of biriyani?
Am told a 1836 law ordains this - the downing of the shutters.

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