You must be thinking – why does this girl want to talk about eating outs? Were there no other E’s exciting enough to share? Trust me, there were many such Es, like the other letters of the alphabet. Studying in a residential college for 4 years does leave behind a plethora of memories.
Then again, for a Bong middle class girl, coming out of her home for the first time, like me, everything was exciting. Every experience of the new life with new friends became eye opening. So eating out was exciting too! One of the reasons being my mom’s insistence on home cooked food. Eating out meant the Phuchka (an Indian snack) or those heavenly chicken- egg rolls from the Park Street corner or the Mutton Biryani from Arsalan during Durga puja.
College was like coming out of those shackles of having to eat home cooked food always. Little did I know then that it was not long before I would start craving for my mother’s home cooked food! But that’s for later.
During Tuesdays and Thursdays we ate out. Because they served eggs in the canteen! Even though later, through much worse conditions, I have come to appreciate the food they served in our college, I hated those boiled eggs in that watery curry back then.
Our college was situated adjacent to the KTPP Township and by the NH41 highway headed straight to a famous tourist spot by the Bay of Bengal. Mecca of street foods as Indian highways are, our own NH41 was no exception. Dotted with several dhabas (many of them gave us a 10% discount if we showed our student ID), there was no better place I could have chosen to study.
There was this place, a nameless street food joint that made fabulous chow mein and one half-plate cost only 5 bucks. Like every other Bong, I too had a sweet tooth so I topped the meal off with two langcha-s (don’t know if you get it anywhere else than West Bengal). If we had to treat someone (we liked to celebrate smallest of small things), this was the cheapest place to go to.
Then there was Drive-Inn – a smallish restaurant beside a petrol pump, with tiled roof. Their butter chicken was worth dying for. And literally, we often risked our lives by crossing the highway in dark while giant trucks sped past us.
But my most favorite place was the famous – Sher-e-Punjab! Every other day, I went to eat there. I went there in the morning for breakfast (only during the luxurious final year), evening snacks, lunch and dinner. And more often than not, we caught glimpses of TV and film celebrities stopping to eat there, on their way to spend the weekend by the Bay of Bengal.
Even with proper seating available inside and in the garden, we preferred sitting outside on the charpoys, eating with our hands, talking to the truck drivers, listening to their fascinating stories while biting off a particularly hot green chilli.
The bill never crossed to the other side of Rs.100. Till date, after nearly seven years, after eating at almost all the restaurants of Chennai and now Chicago, I have rarely tasted anything as good as that for ten times as much money.
If our college was fun, for foodies like us, having so many eating joints in the vicinity definitely contributed a great deal to it.
Where did you go to eat most when you were in college? What made it special?
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