A friend today observed that my blog is the most irregular daily blog she has seen. I’m not surprised. I can barely go two days continuously writing. That is going to change. I will prove myself wrong. We’ve still got pretty much 3 months left in the year (wowie, that’s been quick!), which means I’ve got 90 solid days to write my feelings and observations. It also means you’ll be visiting this blog 90 times. That’s amusing to me.
An old classmate shared with me some news today – we found out that our old head chef from school was quitting to set up his own restaurant. I was pretty elated – that man was the sweetest person in the kitchen. At the same time, though, a few stark realities became clear. This change of guard marks another territory in my school that I will no longer be able to identify with. Additionally, damn, was I privileged to attend a school that had a head chef. That had a dining hall (I can’t remember what we called it, to be honest).
School meals were an integral part of my life. I never carried lunch from home – the only thing I packed was snacks. My snacks were not the most exciting. More often that not (every single day), I carried an Apple with some salt and some chaat masala on it. While everyone traded their snacks with each other, my apples went ungrabbed. So I ate them alone. Sometimes grudgingly, but most of the time attempting to make light of the whole situation and sell a piece of apple to someone based on nutritional value.
My biggest fear carrying those apples was that my box would open up and that apple juice would leak into my bag – leaving this horrible stench (my schoolbag had a long tenure and saw plenty others), but more irritatingly, leaving a stain. Why? Salt makes apples sweat. This is a fact.
Anyway. After snacks, I think we looked forward to lunch because it was respite. We had 45 minutes – and we’d eat in maybe 15 or 20 minutes at most, and much faster once we were in senior secondary, and end up playing on the football field or the basketball court. The coaches would invariably tell us we couldn’t have access to sports equipment during lunch – we’d put up a fight, and ultimately the balance of things would be restored, with us playing and the coaches joining in, sometimes.
The beauty of our dining hall was that people pretty much knew where to sit the minute they walked in – there was this faculty area where you’d see your teachers sharing food and gossip, your middle school area with really, really loud kids, rushing to finish up and go play table tennis, and then the calmer half of senior secondary, which largely just involved a lot of shoving and laughter.
People in school didn’t cut line also. Even when there was ice-cream, or biryani. Or paneer.
I had paneer for 5 years at school once every week, and not once was I tired of it. It took me 3 years to get tired of paneer at college.
Me. Being tired of paneer.
You must surely be able to comprehend what this says about the quality of meals in my school dining hall and my college mess.
I remember this head chef supervising ice-cream distribution and ensuring nobody got a second scoop – just to make sure that everyone had atleast one. But after you became pals with him, you could get extra scoops at the end. Even people who weren’t on the Meal Plan ended up getting scoops.
I didn’t go to the dining hall daily in 12th Grade, because this overwhelming laziness swept me and my friends, and we ended up doing a potluck thing and sharing everything that people had got from home. I probably went there 4 days out of 5, and this head chef would always be there, with his moustache, his chef whites, and his smile.
You wouldn’t be unhappy eating food at the dining hall, and I’m really excited to hear more about this new restaurant he’s opening up, because I’m sure you won’t be unhappy eating there either.