Thursday, November 10, 2005


Darshini: (n) small quaint joint, typical of Karnataka, serving 'breakfast items' like idlis and vadas, also known for their efficient, hygienic and quick service

The joint on the corner is a short walk away and I do the walk alone. Strangely, I'm the only one in the entire organisation who enjoys darshini food.

I have the menu practically memorised, and when I step up to the counter to get my colour-coded food ticket, I almost always know what's listed on the whiteboard behind the cashier.

My week passes by according to my lunches.
Pongal Mondays.
Sevige bhaath Tuesdays.
Mangalore methi rice bhaath Wednesdays.
Vangi bhaath Thursdays.
Bisibelebhaath Fridays.
Vegetable pulao Saturdays.

I've been advised by the guy behind the counter to cut down on the spicy, tamarind-loaded sambhar. I offered to pay more if he had a problem with an extra spoon being doled out on a regular basis. Now he just rolls his eyes and pours it on whenever I extend my plate for a second helping.

Some time ago I noticed a vermilion-streaked potato sitting in a steel bowl where the sweets and fruits are displayed. Upon closer inspection I found it was a tuber that bore an uncanny resemblance to Ganesha.

From that day on, I placed myself close to the glass display while I lunched standing up.
The other day, a couple of us went to the darshini for chai and I pointed out the potato Ganesha to my colleagues.

'That's a fake,' Shivraj said, 'See how they've cut the potato on that side so the trunk is more pronounced? That's not a natural potato Ganesha.'
We all stepped closer and scrutinised the improvised potato. After this proclamation, everyone felt a little betrayed.
'How sad, otherwise it could've been featured in one of the newspapers.'
There was much clicking of tongues.

Somehow, this only increased my fondness for the fat potato. I imagined one of the cooks chancing upon a big potato and instead of peeling it and chopping it up for the day's pulao, turning it this way and that before adding a single, flowing arch to transform the innocuous potato into something of reverence. To be placed on a steel-bowl pedestal and stored next to the sweets. Only fitting.

And now, I stand next to the potato Ganesha everyday. Not staring (because that would be rude), but glancing up every once in a while.
And the potato Ganesha sits in the darshini on the corner, turning slowly greener everyday.