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tales from the woods

Friday, October 31, 2003

Mavalli Tiffin Room

Yes, MTR for short. That's where we decided to have lunch before our Diwali shopping. Although i wasn't too thrilled about going to yet another Udipi restaurant, it turned out to be quite an adventure. After getting stuck in a traffic jam for an hour, it took us another half to locate the place. Here i was expecting to see a big signboard or neon, and there it was, a small old building with the words "Mavalli Tiffin Room" engraved on top. For a restaurant that's world famous in Bangalore, it really didn't look like much. Entering the place changed all that however.

Greeted by a couple of genlemen neatly clad in white dhoti and shirt, we were warned that only "meals" would be served. After paying up at the cashier, we were escorted deep into the bowels of the restaurant. The place is at least thrice as big as it looks from the outside, i tell you! Although the rooms were extremely spartan, i felt that i had been transported 50 years into the past. The effect is only enhanced by fading black & white photographs that provide the only form of interior decoration. Then the food started coming!

First came a glass of grape juice in a small silver "tumbler". Barely had i sipped at it, when the serious business of serving a "thali" started in all it's earnestness. Bisibele-bath, raitha, an assortment of subzis and various other items were served at a speed that would rival a Mac anyday. The thrill of being waited on by over 10 waiters never ceases to amaze me. Their co-ordination and timing is so spot-on that it's almost as if they're telepathic or something.

Another first: this has to be the only place where the waiters literally force you to eat the food! After demolishing the bisibele bath, chapathis, subzees, rice, sambaar, and god knows what, i was ready to fall on the floor. Just then, this guy brings a sweet roti kind of thing with ghee to go along with it. When i refused to have it, he tells me that it's pure ghee and plonks a couple of those on my plate! Heck, this place is almost like my home! Hospitality redefined.

After i had eaten more than Somalia's capital city, we were asked to leave from the kitchen as the front gates had shut! It has to be the cleanest hotel kitchens i've ever seen. Suitably impressed, i finally understood why this unassuming hole in the wall is so famous and still existing 80 years after it opened. Damn, i want to go there again.

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