This is more of a bleg post than a rant post.
Okay, just WHAT has happened to Woody’s?
My delight knew no bounds many years ago when Woody’s opened a new branch in Jayanagar 9th Block. A rather closeby alternative for good food, at non-astronomical prices.
It was where we’d go for breakfast when we had guests over, and where we’d go for dinner after a late-night movie. It was THE place for birthdays, and treating friends.
It was also the place for bumping into old friends.
It was most importantly the place where I went right after losing my mobile while coming back from CAT ’07 (No, I didn’t write it, a friend of mine was and she was staying over at my place), and was clueless about what to do next, and was thankful as hell I bumped into my uncle who, like most adults, knew what exactly to do next.
Few visits home that stretched longer than a couple of days were complete without dinner at Woody’s.
Their large expansive structure, with emphasis on cleanliness, and giving you a feeling of being looked after, was a delight after spending weeks at a cramped hostel where you had to queue up for everything from a bath to a meal to getting a form to paying your fees.
Their Chinese wasn’t great, but their SouthIndian, and even their naans and rotis were brilliant.Oh, and what divine starters there were!
And ah, their basundi brooked no comparison to anything except maybe the nectar of the Gods.
Surprisingly, I didn’t give this place much of a thought over the past year, though I’ve been living at home. Maybe because I’ve been living at home and don’t care about eating out.
Changes happened. The place got/is getting renovated. Due to which the structure has been reduced to a mere shadow of its former self.
No issues, we thought and went there one evening. And as is usual, asked for the basundi. Nope, we don’t have any sweets this evening, the waiter said. Shock and disbelief. Then we were told it was due to staff shorage.The waiter even agreed with us that the standard has come down, and we all shook our heads together.
Go to the Woody’s on Commercial Street, he suggested. It’s awesome there.
I forgot about that bit of advice. Random shopping spree at Comm Street this evening, which was supposed to end, like other shopping sprees, with pizza. But then, coming across Woody’s brought back that waiter’s advice, and in we went.
I won’t go into details, but I think it’ll suffice to say the food seemed to have been prepared by a new bride. And while I tried to confirm this point with the waiter there, he only grinned and with an apologetic smile said “If the cook is paid, excellent meals are made”, or something to that effect. The headwaiter got an earful too, and he suggested I complain to the manager. Almost like he wanted me to. I did, and it felt like I was talking to a sphinx.
So what the hell IS going on in this place? Recession? Someone do let me know… I really want to know how quality could do such a backflip in such a short time.
I love the foodie shows on T&L and NDTV Good Times, though most if not all of the dishes shown are items I’ll never touch.
So we(sis and I) watch a Chinese lady with a Brit accent go through China, chopping tofu, cooking lotus roots… and then watch another lady whip up desserts all rich in chocolate, Kunal Vijaykar chat with a chef in Pondicherry as he buys spices, vegetables and meat and prepares a godawesome-looking meal, another guy sample street-food in different parts of the world…
And then we watch Vir Sanghvi. He doesn’t think too much of the Udupi restaurants in Mumbai. He doesn’t like the exotic seafood he gets in Kerala. He somehow manages to eat the fare on a trawler in Mangalore without making too wry a face. He doesn’t have too high an esteem of the Rajputs – ‘they were the stupidest in my school’.
Why, he doesn’t even spare the Udupi Temple. There they were, the temple staff piling his leaf with more and more, while he couldn’t manage past a few mouthfuls and rather disgracefully said he’s had enough.
In contrast, Padma Lakshmi did the Udupi temple too, and was excited as hell about the food, she went into the kitchen, showed us the spices they use, the wood fires… and even tried her Iyer Tamil on the folks in the kitchen.
Maybe I’d've not minded so much if he didn’t sound all condescending. His condiness knows no bounds. The Rajputs got stripped of their titles. They were stupid in school – bad at both sports and studies. So what sort of careers do they pursue? Why, they turn their palaces to Heritage Hotels, of course …And this is how you are introduced to Rajasthan and its heritage hotels.
All the other food show hosts seem to be adventurous in terms of sampling cuisines, open to new experiences, and having as open a mind as possible. And if they have reservations, they are careful to stick to their comfort zone.
And not just food show hosts are this accomodating.. I remember an MTV VJ getting a large tattoo done on her lower back just for the sake of the show. It was painful, but she smiled for the camera, and managed to even joke about it.
It’s painful to watch an old (he’s crossed the half century mark) man trudge over the country, sampling foods he doesn’t like, meeting people he doesn’t try to get to know, and passing through lands that’ll always seem inferior to him. A joke comes to mind:
When the lights in the cinema dimmed and the opening credits of the film appeared on screen, one of the viewers leaned closer to his neighbour and asked:
“Excuse me, but can you tell me what’s written on the screen?”
“The opening titles…”
“I see…can you tell me the name of the producer? My eyesight isn’t too good…”
“But the translator is reading them over the mike!”
“The thing is, my hearing isn’t what it should be, either. By the way is the film in colour?”
“Do you suffer from Dalton’s disease?”
“As a matter of fact — yes. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t see why you go to the movies, under the circumstances. What pleasure can you get?”
“Pleasure’s got nothing to do with it. I have to write a review!”
The past four years have given my granny ample grounds to curse my college for making me waif-thin. And many other grannies too. We were an underfed bunch in the GB, for whom pickle was staple food, and the only reason any of us would be found near a blood donation camp was for transfusions.
Okay, it isn’t as bad as I make it out to be. But take it for granted there were a good bunch of people who, after being well-fed on simple, good food for eighteen years, were made to come in contact with mess food, and depend on it for survival. And the results were apparent within months. A lot of us lost weight like anything, suffered hairfall, and a few even started passing out and suffered deficiencies.
The thing is, we weren’t used to going out for every meal. And when we did, it wasn’t wholesome simple food. It took time to strike the right balance between swallowing cupfuls of dal consoling ourselves with the thought of all the protein, and pigging it out in Mangalore.
Obvious fallout – we were all on a see-food diet.
People generally associate girls with dieting and “do I look fat in this?”, but phrases and fads like those were unheard of in NITK Girls Block. Sure, there were the occasional few who refused chocolate, but those were an aberration – more on this later. We indulged whenever we could.
Like the mandatory pizza outings after a week of nightouts… where we’d have large pizzas with double cheese toppings and even cheesier conversations. (Poonam, I miss those bigtime). And innumerable meals at Cherry Square which all ended with Some Like It Hot for dessert.
(Actually, this phase made me a connoisseur-of-sorts. So what if we didn’t have good food to eat, that didn’t stop us from reading up about sturgeon caviar, kim-chi, gazpacho, exquisite pastries, you name it. At this point, I should mention my neighbor Pubali who was well-known for her collection of food pictures. I feel proud to have contributed and for still continuing to contribute in my own modest way to her massive collection.)
Girls in general don’t have monstrous appetites, and me most of all. I’ve always been picked on by family members for my picky eating habits, and I’ve always shared the table with people who look at my plate and say “Hmm… no wonder you are so small”, and comments like “Cya… make sure to eat well” have been staple diet for me.
After S’kal, my appetite has greatly improved, mainly due to sharing the table with what my grandmother would call people with healthy appetites. Peer pressure makes me indulge. And I’m not complaining… I don’t have to contend with overcooked vegetables and oily preparations anymore.
Hence, when my social circle expanded to include people from different walks of life, it is taking me a lot of time to come to terms with PEOPLE WITH PICKIER EATING HABITS THAN ME!!!!
I never thought that was possible. To start with, I used to dine with people who took second, third and fourth helpings of everything, giving me a complex about the single helpings on my plate. And then, others joined us. When we’d be halfway through rumaali rotis with dal makhani, people with their bowl of fruit salad and glass of carrot juice would join us. We’d just think that was their idea of a starter, but they’d leave the table by the time we’d moved on to kashmiri pulav. And they’d never come back!
Maybe they were lunching elsewhere… “Do you eat lunch outside?”, I proceeded to clear my doubts. They said they didn’t. Maybe they’d come back for a real lunch later when the crowds thin… nope, I was wrong there. That bowl of salad that would be part of a snack for me was their lunch.
And there were others who fasted one day a week not for religious reasons, but to stay slim.
I recall this incident when a friend of mine approached this task with determination in finalYear and lost such a lot of weight, so much that considerable difficulty was encountered in draping a saree for the Ring Ceremony.
These fruit-lovers might worry about fitting into their jeans; after the previous example quoted, I think the only worry I should probably have is fitting into a saree.
I’ve never known people who would voluntarily give up food like that. But, oh, well, different people have different food habits. If I don’t have a problem with Koreans who have very rare steaks and dog meat, or with Manipuris who apparently eat crow-meat, or Assamese friends and their bamboo delicacies, or folks close to the Chinese border with a love for mice and grasshopper snacks, I shouldn’t have a problem with fruit-eaters. After all, my eating habits would too be strange to a lot of people… like someone from the cowbelt asked me, “How can you eat curd and rice mixed?”.