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Hallimane - Why the hell is it so very crowded
… if only there was no stomach to feed, in what a jeopardy this world would have been?
Amongst the business section of Malleshwaram and also between residential sections, in one of the by-lanes stood this place. The place some how never failed to draw the crowds right from its humble beginnings. The permissible parking space of the place simply had bikes occupying it all the while. A two-wheeler has to park while another moves out. The artist’s impression of the place hanging in pride above the cash counter has not failed to capture this point. Two-wheelers of all categories fight for space within.
There is this screw-gone-loose loitering around never failing to blow the whistle and stretch the palm when a customer who having just recharged struggles to get his vehicle off the haphazardly parked pack. A coin or two is dropped when the filth needs to be kept away or shooed away. Others just stare into the vast infinity of his eyes and just ignore his existence.
There are other stores benefiting too; people have to puff, some down ripe bananas, others needs to lick on toffees, some remember families perhaps cause they take away condiments. There are hawkers, fruit-vendors and the lot capitalizing on the rush.
What draws these crowds? Is it the name, is it the ventilation the place seems to possess, or is it just the ‘they go so we’? You would find varieties from all walks of life. There are the school-goers, the shoppers, the office-goers, the visitors, college-goers, doctors; identifiable by their overcoats, which they still wear, and the presence of nearby government hospital, you-name-what they are all there.
You catch glimpses of straw in mouth, smile on face, eyes in eyes couples exchanging sweet nothings, while sipping up fresh juices. No, they have their individual glasses to sip from. The moral police are always around.
Youngsters alighting from their 2-wheeled mode of transport and taking off the load of the so-called helmets off their heads, have to adjust their disheveled hair, and make themselves possible suitors. The area is scouted for probable you-know-for-what’s.
Any place worth a sit is seated; the seated resembles and reminds you of cattle chewing away on the cud. They are colorfully attired, though not revealingly revealed. A navel could now and then be spotted from the loosely hanging and breezed away saris’ covering the mature builds of middle-aged feminine folk. Colorful it is thanks to the Indian weavers.
It is that insatiable void within that somehow brings about these folks to this place in timely fashion. Refueling is for everyone, whoever he is. While the middle-class refuels, the place fattens, eating into it morning, noon and evening. The cash-counter is designed to tend and cater to the various demands and colorations of notes handed over.
Denominations change hands for coupons, coupons indicating what its worthy of issuing. Issuing is what the board display’s, breaking up into South Indian, North Indian, crosses over borders and countries to Chinese, cooling up with Ice Creams, juicing up with Fresh Fruit Juices. The board also mentions the timings before which and after which the delicacies will not be served. A confused mind may not decide instantly, the reason why the counter remains crowded and hot.
Serpentine queues, coupons in hand, waiting similar dispense waits looking into the oblivion, perhaps not, scouting for seats. Responsible individuals who need no attention haunt the self-service wing, they cater to all their needs and necessities themselves, and likewise they have to find a seat for themselves recently occupied by another of the responsible kind. Having found one and have had exchanged coupon for fuel, they have to summon the cleaning-boy to cleanse the leftover of the previously occupied responsible individual. Having fortified their hold by both fuel and gear they have to cleanse their hands from the basins in the corner often aerated with stink of urine from the overly used and closely attached common urinal. The rush forced the management of the place to increase the number of sinks from a merely two to a well-deserved five, though the urinal remained single though never lonely. They pick up a glass of water to quench their thirst en-route to where the fuel rests and to be consumed.
The South Indian has to have Sambar and Rasam, though at times they take up different flavors and styles decided mostly by the mood swing of the cook that day. He has choices with all the styles thanks to the system of caste and its individuality. There is never a running out of variety for the cook. Though the quantity of rice served is uniform and not more not less, the customer feeding his hunger gets to taste different and is content and happy. There is buttermilk to complete the lick smacking and brings in coolness and sweet pudding aids the digestion. There is always a side dish to add taste, and pickles sometimes lime, sometimes mango, sometimes God-knows-what to add to the spiciness.
The North Indian gets to savor on rotis, tomato soup, he always chews on raw onions and cucumber, exotic kurma and pulav and the curd rice as well. Pappads and dal fry add to the taste.
Having dealt with their hunger, the crowd exits, as new ones enter. Come rain, come shine the battle continues.
The evening crowd gets to chew on rice and ragi rotis, not to mention the other savories designed for the evenings. Dosas usually are the star attraction. The crowd waits coupon in hand as dosas are spread one after the other on the pan cleansed with broom and water. The crowds amidst their satisfying of their insatiable quench also often attack beverages, coffee and tea alike.
And while the pocket looses to tightening trousers and bulging cash registers and while the catering to many a taste continues, that is how the wheel revolves.