Friday, July 13, 2007

Hail The Food Gods!!!

I had seen this in enough prisoner movies. The prisoners were kept locked in dark prison cells without even a ray of light. And when they were let out in the sun or shown any kind of light, they screamed. They screamed as if concentrated hydrochloric acid was being sprinkled upon their bare bodies. This happened because the body had forgotten that something called light even exists, and hence could not take so much of it.

Now, if you replace the human body with taste buds, the dark cell with the restaurants and mess in the KGP campus and the light with good food, you will get a fair idea of how I responded when I had my first meal in Mumbai. What I ate that day was nothing exotic or fancy, it was just a chicken burger at McDonald's, but my taste buds just refused to accept that something like that is not extinct.

This is the thing about Mumbai. I have not seen another city with such a competitive food industry in my entire life. The rivalry is so strong that is makes all the restaurant owner's try to be one step ahead of others, be it in quantity, quality or service. Even small restaurants near my brother's place serve awesome food at very reasonable price. Be it the McD burger or the lemon sizzler chicken at sheisha or the chicken 65 at public restaurant (near CST) or even the butter chicken at a small restaurant nearby, I have enjoyed everything so far like anything.

All my mumbaikar friends actually had told me similar things but I had to see this for myself before believing. Another thing that they had told me was about the gals in Mumbai. You may call it another instance of the sour-grape theory being proven correct, but I really do not agree so much with them in this case. True, There are a lot of girls moving around, which in itself is a shocking and rather scary site for any KGPian (If you don't understand why, read the first paragraph and then replace the prisoner with a regular KGPian and light with girls), and I agree that many of them are hot, but most of them try to look hotter than they actually are, and the artificiality just takes away the charm.

Still, I agree that the girls seem really considerate and good by nature. There have been no instances of a girl puking on seeing me. There were even no "What's that walking thing?" or "Are they allowed in here?" or "Look, Look, a basketball with feet" , so I was really feeling confident that I was doing considerably better around girls this time. I thought that maybe this is because I kept hiding in my bro's friend group, but later on something happened that made me realise that I was actually doing well. I was roaming in a mall alone, while a group of girls passed by me. I noticed a really cute looking one among them, and as she went, i noticed that she did not even 'eew' or 'yuck' at me. I think she was flirting with me :)

(Here I need to make one thing very clear. Some days ago, I was talking to a girl when she said, "You always keep making fun of the way you look. Do you have some huge complex about being overweight?". Well, for the records, the answer is 'No'. It's just my nature to make fun of myself. If I was so concerned about my weight, I'd be working days and nights to make myself slim. But I know for a fact that a major part of human brain is made up of fats. If I go on a diet or an exercise regime, I might burn the fats constituting those parts of my brain which store all the knowledge that I have gained in my life (ok, that sums up to my gmail and blogger passwords). If I forget that, I might be in a pickle. So I think it's better to stay how I am. Right?)


It was the 5th of june... I had to leave for Mumbai. I was very enthusiastic about everything... meeting my brother, his friends, the places, the food. The only thing that made me feel like not going was the journey.

I hate journies... specially long, boring train journies where the co-passengers are all old, talkative, pessimistic and carrying atleast 2 howling babies each. And so, following the most accurate law of nature (the Murphy's law), I find myself in the middle of such situations more often than not.

Anyway, getting back to the topic...

They say that a good beginning is half the job done. Well if that is so, and if the converse holds good enough, the journey made it pretty damn sure that this trip was half ruined anyway. KGP was almost flooded, it was raining like I have never seen another time in KGP. I reached the station fully wet. To my horror (yes, horror is the word), the train reached KGP railway station just ten minutes late. I was too shocked even to be happy. As I arranged my luggage under the seat, I felt proud of the progress Indian railway service has made. Kudos to Lalu Prasad Yadav and the the whole planning commision and the staff. Hats Off. Mind-Boggling. Incredible. Way to go, guys!

My adjectives were just about to run out of stock, when the announcer (not the female sweet recorded voice, but the male hoarse yelling noise, that too in bengali) announced, "Due to technical problems, 2860 Up Geetanjali Express is going to stay on the station for about 3 more hours."

I hated these guys. Sick bastards. Morons. Idiots. These guys should be killed by continuously being poked at with chop-sticks. And above all, I hated myself for being so insanely optimistic (It's not as if I did not hate myself before that. I started hating myself the very first day I felt that I could understand bengali fairly well.). My optimism shown here was almost equivalent to, if not more than, believing that the male-female ratio in IIT Kharagpur will reach 1:1 by the end of next year. (I can already imagine Pappu aka Tattu aka Bhairav's aka....ummmm..... (enough of actual names, now thinking of a nickname)... ummmm...... Vaibhhav Sinha's expression when he reads this statement)

Anyway, the rest of the journey was equally bad. I reached Mumbai in about 40 hours (I was supposed to reach in 30). The food was bad, the weather worse, the company worst. One of them was a person who was either very want-driven, or had something wrong with his english, but he always spoke in english, was always in an interrogative mode and involved the word 'Want' in every sentence. As soon as I sat beside him, his first question was, "You want to get this berth alloted to you?". I informed him that it already was, to which his reply was, "I wanted to ask precisely that." Then he unleashed his fury upon everyone coming his way. He even asked the pantry guy what he WANTED to serve us for the dinner. The only nice moment in this series arrived when he asked a married guy sitting with his wife and a kid, "How long ago did you want to get married?" while actually trying to ask how long they had been married. The husband's silent expression that helplessly said, "Never" is one that I can never forget.

Bad as the journey was, it taught me quite a few things about life. It reminded me that there is something called an auto-halu mode which should be practised from time to time. It totally changed my choice for colours. I waited so desperately for the green light that day, that it has become my favourite colour ever since. My best dream just show a green light flashing in the dark, and my worst nightmares show all the persons, places and things painted red. Most importantly, it taught me that the age-old saying, "Something is better than nothing" is not a universal truth. To justify my statement, my argument is that i distinctly remember having eaten something at the nashik railway station. That something led to some other things and soon I discovered that I had to spend a lot of time trying to drop some totally different things in the train loo, all the time having to look at the modern abstract art comparable to M.F.Hussain's work made by the extremely talented boarders who just wanted some timepass in the toilet, while the moving train kept rocking me back and forth, hence making the job at hand far more difficult. (Those who think that this stuff is too gross to be put on a blog, pls ask yourself honestly if you have not felt similarly at some point of time). And all that time, all that I thought was, "I WISH I HAD EATEN NOTHING AT THE STATION." In other words, nothing was better than something...