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Savouring hotel food

Savouring hotel food
Highlights

During my childhood days, there was never a temptation to savour outside food.

During my childhood days, there was never a temptation to savour outside food. My mother, Padmavathi, was adept at cooking up a storm, and my brothers four and I were content devouring freshly cooked and delicious homemade fare.

The equation changed after I got recruited into the State Bank of India as a cashier in June 1980.

The St.Mark's road branch of the bank, which was my parent office had a variety of dining options in the vicinity. With many lovers of good food in the bank for the company, we made frequent trips to the eateries, laying our tongue on some delectable dishes - Indian, Chinese and Continental.

The evening rounds of badminton and table-tennis which stretched up to 8 pm and made us hungry, was also a reason to wolf down some good food.

These experiences had their lighter moments too, and the following stand out.

During the lunch hour demonstrations (in the 80s) by the employees' for better salaries, my colleague G R Murthy and I would do the disappearing act, quietly slipping out of the Branch and heading to the iconic Koshy's bar and restaurant located nearby.

Both of us detested demonstrations and strikes and rarely participated in them. The forced 'coffee break' was timed to a nicety: we would exit before the demo began and surreptitiously sneak in via the back door just after the protests ended!

On another occasion, a predetermined calculation by a friend for a snack of namkeen and rasgulla at the famous KC Das outlet on Church Street in the mid-80s resulted in both of us cutting a sorry figure.

When the bill arrived, we discovered that we were short by 25 paise (a decent amount then) and with no other colleagues around to help, we desperately sought a way out.

Thankfully the waiter who learned of our predicament and knew me well offered to bail us out by making up the shortfall from his collection of tips only on the gentleman's promise that the amount is settled the next day!

An episode comes to mind every time tips are discussed. A colleague (I will not disclose his name here for obvious reasons) and I frequented the Coffee House on M G Road.

The colleague had the knack of parking himself close to a table where the tip money was waiting.

Knowing that the server would take some time to arrive at the table to pick it up, my acquaintance would secretively pocket the change and succeed in his efforts at broad daylight robbery. He resorted to this trick time and again without ever getting caught in the act!

There was this cook who ran a non-vegetarian eatery in a lane between MG road and Church street. His attire - white coat and trousers - earned him the nickname, 'Doctor'.

He was a one-person army and managed the entire gamut of cooking, serving, washing and cleaning.

While the non-vegetarian fare was sumptuous, many patrons were upset with the size and quantity of the meat pieces that were nothing but tiny cubes and too few.

The man also erred in charging a bomb and paid the price as patrons slowly kept away, leading to a gradual decline in business and subsequent winding up. These memorable culinary excursions are hard to forget!

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