Pleased to meet you, Mess Food

Posted: February 9, 2012 by Ankur in Writes...
Tags: ,

Mess food lives up to it’s name. Time and time again.

Once too often I have found myself contemplating running out of the mess, going to Reddy uncle#, buying a ticket home; reaching home and devouring true Sāmbhar-rice, as I pour a ladle full of turmeric powder + tomato + water mixture for myself.

My cooking at home, all of a sudden, did not seem so bad when I broke my first piece of chapatti here in the mess. 
Despite being dipped in oil or uncooked with flour still flying off it as I used both my hands to tear and shove a mouthful of the nutritious chapatti, it still has been my staple diet for the past two years.

Nutritious: if not for that magic word, how many people would frequent the mess? Like they do anyway. I know some people love mess food*snort* I’m sorry, but you have been misled. {I accept no liability for the content of this piece or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information (fine, data) provided. You are not the intended recipient and are notified that taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.}

I may sound bitter about mess food, but here is why I eat the tasteless food they give: I don’t have a choice. That means I’m supposed to be bitterer, bitter about the unavailability of a choice maybe, but not so much with the only alternative left to starving. Thank you, dear Mess. Food. 

One can’t live on hotel food, day in and day out, not even Mr. Hilton can, I am sure. What with NC’s# legendary overuse-reuse policy with oil. No thank you! Sigh, if only I could get myself to skip meals (my mother would be so proud that I cannot.)

Just how many meals can you substitute with fruits and bread? You start craving for salt.

The salt story: I’ll be brief. The curries served taste sweet to me. My taste buds have gone haywire (we know who’s to blame, don’t we), or the mess people use sugar (coconut seems more probable) instead of salt and spices.

In lieu of standing in such queues that boggle your mind wishing you were Spiderman or Matilda- and get the cardboard(chaps) buffeted on the shiny(shiny with spilled rasam: rasam, my foot!) granite surface (no expense spared) as a million people mill around the spoon-vessel shouting “akka, spoon kaali!” (yes, our mess runs out of spoons, much to the chagrin of the rice-eaters who are already late for class, having stood in the mile-long queue)- most simply are pushed into eating instant noodles.

Coming back to my attendance in the mess, why? Oh why?
One place where you get with your friends and gossip, cuss and thup at the stuff we have laden on out plates, exchange pleasantries, wish them well with classes until next time, and read the newspaper.

True story: when my friend and I were having breakfast (the mess was relatively empty. Morning classes combined with the slow mess akka who turns a shameless deaf ear to the siren keeps them away), she mused aloud about how sugary the coffee was today. 
“It’s always been like this macha”
“no dude, it’s different today, actually tastes like coffee. It’s been a semester since I tasted good stuff like this in the mess. Different cook, you think?”
“That good?”
“Sip?”
It nearly singed my tongue, but…
“That is tea you dope head!”

#Reddy uncle: the go-to guy in college.. bus/train tickets, recharging your phone, biscuits, chips, samosas.
#NC: Night Canteen. works to keep people awake and helps them cope with bad-mess-dinner days.

Sneha Divakaran

NITK, Surathkal

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