On Full Meals and Six Yards


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?”.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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7 Responses to On Full Meals and Six Yards

  1. Tuna Fish says:

    Curd Rice was my staple food for four years (The variety only wrt pickles). Extra Curds, that I got by begging/pleading Shakku / nicking it when she was not looking (Only once).

    Damn! I miss those outings, Dal tadka Kichdi, in Sads / Burger from Hangyo got from the wingmate, groundfloor mate other wing mates’ random jaunt to mangalore / IceCream cake, Blackforrest cake from Bonbon’s / Enigma, Chocolate Dad, Blackforrest cake from Cherry Square,/ More cakes from wing mates birthday/ Yucky Fried rice/ Gobi capsicum manchurian from 3rd block canteen, just to escape yuckier sunday double rice/ and ofcourse mug noodles/ chocolate milk shake from Dabba@GB Corner, had right at 9:29 in the night, to irritate the guard by coming back 3 min after the block timings/ samosa from the amul place/ Chocolate iCone, butter milk from reddy’s to quench my thirst, feel cool after a class on a hot afternoon!!!/ Chaat from saibeen complex/ and many many more!!!

    Its fun to watch other people complaining about seemingly trivial things (“I wont have this, its cold/ Dal is too thin, let me just ditch this/ rice is too soft/ NO GHEE!!!”)

    The concept of eating food anytime I want, seems to have escaped from my mind…

  2. wanderlust says:

    @tuna:
    you said it all mostly… so many other nice treats in and around dakshina kannada.
    and when you say ‘trivial things’…. oh man… people say the food is bad, and I’m like excuse me, what?? this food is amazing!
    vijayan immanuel really said it when he told us in first year, “if you can survive at nitk, you can survive anywhere in the world”.

  3. Logik says:

    Certain other Alumni-profs mentioned to us that in their times, they absolutely loved their mess food, and were shocked to hear our tragic accounts.
    They, however, made it a point to tell us some incidents related to the sorry state of hygiene at the GB Mess( in their times). Those things are best kept unsaid.
    Anyways, barring particular messes like 7th block, Shetty Mess, and the Final Block one, the rest were mostly fine. That left only Mysore for me, and an added option of N.V for some more.

  4. karthik says:

    The same tale applies to all hostel messes; Every one I know who’s studied away from home (including me) has heard the “If you can survive here, you can survive anywhere” bromide. I’ve always been curious to know what a comparison of the food at all NITs and IITs across the country will reveal. A comparison of the accounts of the survivors (such as this one) is too subjective to draw inferences from. I’ve heard “Oh, believe me, it can’t be worse than the mess where I study” all too often.

    Also, there is a select minuscule group of individuals who survive primarily on mess food and end up gaining several kilograms in their sojourn at college. It always baffles me that despite a mess-food induced diminishing appetite, I steadily gained a few kilos (and outgrew most of my wardrobe) every year. The effects were palpable- starving batch-mates assumed I was eating their share of food.
    And yeah, rice and curd is a heavenly combination, goes well with anything else.

  5. wanderlust says:

    @logik:
    i think the problems began when the mess workers joined the union and now don’t have any worries about job security. they won’t even have incentives… their attitude is “you don’t need to pay us more… just let us cook the same way we’ve been cooking”.
    and hygiene… the lesser said the better.
    @karthik:
    i don’t think folks in any other college had to contend with NO water, NO electricity, little or no maintenance, as well as academic pressure. all this along with bad mess food and hardly any alternatives.
    i should admit my hostel mess really rocked in firstyear thanks to our feisty girlrep. in second year however it got really sad and that was when we all lost a lot of weight. it got back to tolerable limits after that.
    gaining weight is not impossible, but almost unheard of.
    mess food is never as bad as advertized, but you should have tried my mess in secondyear. one of my friends (who has an excellent appetite) lost 9 kg in two months!

  6. Heh. One Cowbelt friend said, referring to the mosaranna that our mess served, “You South Indians put rice in everything. There’s rice in curd also today!”

  7. wanderlust says:

    @aandthirtyeights:
    a cowbelt friend served himself some what he thought was kheer. And didn’t enjoy the rest of the southie north indian meal…. and so wanted to get over with the rest asap and get to the dessert…. guess what the ‘dessert’ turned out to be!!

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