Food, Pune and Me

The first time I cried after moving to Pune was because of burger king.

Let me elaborate,

So picture this. I am sitting there on the mess table with my friends after a particularly hard day. A really really bad day. One of those days when you get up and you just go “ew” and that ew stays with you. It binds your mouth shut and that ends up annoying your friends which ends up annoying you and when they are done being annoyed at you, you go “what the hell, at least show some concern” but you don’t exactly know what you expect them to do or what you expect yourself to do and everything is messed up and nothing makes sense-

Yup

One of “those” days


Well, I guess a really stupid and hungry and sad part of me thought that by having a Bk Veggie at least I would have done something right that day, Have some sort of control over my life but nope. Obviously not. I had to have a million problems. My debit card got lost (thankfully just for that day) I ran out of cash and my net wasn’t working.

Still, I tried. I tried for an hour to find my debit card when I couldn’t I asked around for money and net and finally after assembling everything I placed the order when-

NO COD AVAILABLE

I started bawling- full on tears. My plate had some potato thing on it so I started stuffing my mouth with it because I was so damn hungry but I was still so damn depressed about the burger (which if someone has still not figured out, represents all of my hopes and dreams at this point ahem) that I just couldn’t stop crying.

People started to freak out. Of course, it didn’t help that the absurdity of the situation kept making me laugh in between and saying even stupider stuff like (“I am literally being a mess in the mess guys” “Oh my god shut up”) to confuse them even more. Between sobs, I showed my friends my ‘would have been’ order which only seemed to confuse them more.

In hindsight, perhaps I had been more sad about my inability to do or achieve anything that day than I was by not eating a burger. Nevertheless that was an emotional response that was triggered by food and after that, I slowly started to realise that, that happened more than I realised that it did.

Here are a few of my experiences:

Exhibit A

Day: Sunday

Time: 9:24 pm

Location: Hostel Mess

“What exactly is a ..handi?” My roommate and I are standing in front of the menu board frowning.

“Uh…”

“Yeah. Exactly. We’re eating out”

My eyes widen as I glance at the clock. It’s the first week of college and coming from a small city I am still not used to this “yes we can go out after 9 and not get shot or mugged or whatever” culture.

“Where, where will we even go?”

“Idk. Let’s just …go”

And we went outside and it was raining (duh) and we walked all the long distance to ‘Superstore’. We went in and we went up the stairs. Both of us had just assumed that it would be a continuation of the supermarket from downstairs but we were wrong.

There was a freakin’ café on top. Good music was playing and the lighting was pleasing and with the rain pouring outside we ordered the white penne pasta and while we were eating it just enjoying our time in Pune I couldn’t help but feel so utterly happy. And safe.

That was the first time I felt “comfortable” or “safe” about my life in Pune. I really don’t want to give that pasta the credit for it, really, that goes out to my roommate. Nevertheless, it was a good night and the pasta definitely played a role in making it that way.

Exhibit B

Time: 1:00 am

Location: Hostel Common Room

Some FIFA match is playing on the television while the female guards are gently drooping with sleep on their desks and a girl in her pyjamas sits hurdled on the sofa watching the match intensely.

I sit next to her. We watch the match in silence for a while. I don’t understand shit but that’s what great about my relationship with football I don’t have to understand it to enjoy it and not to be too damn poetic but that’s how I felt about the girl that I sat next to that night.

The commercial break comes on and both of us are feeling hungry. “Do you want to eat some rolls?”

“Damn. Did you just read my mind or what, hells yes”

So we order and the rolls come and they are so damn tasty and soon we get to talking and by the end of it, I don’t think either of us were concerned with what was going on with the match until she dropped something from her roll and bends to pick it up and-

GOAL

I laugh so hard at her crestfallen face and she hits me and we talk for hours after that. Pretty great night and pretty great rolls.

Exhibit C

Time: 8:24 pm

Location: Hostel Room

I am so angry that I am exercising. I never exercise and I am not saying this proudly either. I wish I was that person who went to the gym or for early morning runs but I am not. But that day, whoo boy, that day. I.Was.Pissed. To be honest, now that I am trying to remember why exactly was I angry I can’t even recall but for whatever reason, I was angry and I was angry at everybody.

Suddenly a friend calls.

We talk for about 10 minutes and I am not even remotely kidding, all we talked about for those 10 minutes was regarding different types of fruits and vegetables “Which is your favourite fruit?” “Um… I think onion oh wait-”ONION ISN’T A FRUIT YOU IDIOT-“ “YEAH I KNOW! I SAID IT BY MISTAKE!” and the call ends with her telling me that one day she will make me my favourite dish and I hang up the phone and the anger has just. Gone.

Instead, I am left feeling hungry so I grab my keys and go to the mess, caught up in thoughts of strawberries and cottage cheese.

Exhibit D

Time: 12:52 pm

Location: Hostel Room

My mom is rambling about hygiene (as always) while I rummage through her bag. This is the first time she is visiting me and while obviously, I am excited to see her I will not lie a huge part of it was just to see what she had gotten for me.

Finally! I find it! I take the tiffin out and open it. Sure enough. There is the homemade dish I asked for. Before my mom can say anything, the dish is out and on its way to be eaten, when my friends enter.

I had forgotten to open the door and somehow the aroma had spread throughout and now there are about 10 people in my room longing for a single tiffin.

The need to run and shut myself in the washroom with the tiffin was real but I resisted. I decided to be the bigger person (sigh) and I shared my tiffin.

Somewhere between debating whether North Indian food is better or South Indian (FYI the answer is the former) my beloved food disappeared but surprisingly I felt full enough.

I didn’t consider myself to be a ‘foodie’ before I moved here and I don’t consider myself as one now. Food, for me, has always been just another necessity or at the best of the times a pleasant surprise. I never knew that food had in it the inherent capability to actually provide comfort or even purpose but it does. How a certain “dish” can be much more meaningful than a bunch of ingredients thrown together. How it is actually a melting pot of memories and emotions.

Okay, so I think this is already stretching out too long to be a piece about “food” for heaven’s sake so I am gonna go and check out what’s for dinner.

Hope it’s not handi.

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