In VV Puram, all you do is eat and eat and eat

We reached early, it was around 6.30 PM and the road was already filled with a sea of people. I and my roommate decided to take a walk as we waited for M and D to arrive. The small stalls selling boiled corn in an assortment of flavours was eye-catching. One can try these out as a form of starters but we decided to keep them for another day. Walking through Food Street, as it is famously known, the smell of the air changed and like a gust of wind blowing at your face, different aromas came to me at once. With every step that I took, it changed from the smell of fried bajjis, the tangy smell of curd in what seemed like dahi puri being made somewhere, the sweet, spicy and nose-tingling smell of potato twisters, samosa and the buttery smell of pav bhaji culminating with freshly brewed coffee as we reached the other side, after a bit of a struggle walking amidst so many people and cars. Cars shouldn’t be allowed to ply on this road because they look menacing and you are always in the fear of being hit from behind. I don’t understand how people can drive on this road; it wouldn’t make them feel hungry with all their windows rolled up. How can one not smell all that?

We reached the other end and decided to wait for our two other friends to arrive. In a few minutes, M came towards us with what looked like vada pav, only that the vada was missing. It was a bun with peanuts topped over a layering of masala with coriander leaves, onion and grated carrots. As I took a bite, I could sense that there was some butter inside too and the entire thing was one explosion of a nutty and spicy feeling. M told me that this was the Congress Bun from the famous VB Bakery, situated at the end of Food Street. The peanuts used in it are a special type known as Congress Kadlekai (peanuts). But why Congress though? Upon some research I came to know that it has many urban legends, one of them being that Congress netas during the British rule used to write messages in chits and pass them between one another in boxes and snacks of peanuts, hidden from the British officials. We went inside VB Bakery where M told us that it was essential to try the Rum Ball (Rs. 30). Divided into four parts, it had a soft chocolaty texture on top while the inside had a surprise of cherry pieces, raisins and cake infused with a bit of rum. The smell was strong and the taste, equally that which managed to stay in my mouth for quite some time.

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Rum ball from VB Bakery

Right opposite to VB Bakery is Sri Vasavi Vaisista Thindi, a place selling South-Indian street food amidst the usual offerings of Button Idly Sambar and Sagu Masala Dosa. Thindi is the Kannada word for breakfast. M suggested that we have to try Aambode (Rs. 40 for two pieces), which is apparently a Kannada funeral food. It is idli shaped although the taste is nothing like a normal idli. It’s made out of tur daal and has peas, onions, coriander leaves, chili and spices in it. Its taste resembled that of a litti that you get in the north, although this was a more spiced up version of that. I wanted to try the button idli but that too was saved for the next time. We decided to try something sweet and jamoon seemed like a nice idea. The buttery soft ball of dripping sweetness glided through with a spoon like a hot knife through butter.

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Dahi kachori in its full glory

Next up, we reached a small shop selling jalebis and a variety of chaats. Dahi kachodi (Rs. 40) caught my eye and we decided to try that out. The place was also selling Obattu, Akki Roti, and Paddu among other things. The dahi kachodi was like sev puri but had kachodi instead of puri, garnished with onion rings, coriander leaves, a dollop of curd, some tamarind chutney, lots of sev and crushed kachori beneath all of that. Sweet, tangy and wholesome are the words to describe it. Just beside this place was Chandni Chowk Hot Honey Jilebi. Although we just had something sweet, it was too tempting to avoid it and move forward. Something sweet right after something tangy and spicy would not be encouraged by many but we were on a hogging spree so what the heck. That is the power of these sweet smelling sugar concoctions. We decided to eat less and got one for each of us. Jalebi never disappoints but more than eating it, what fascinated me more was how it is poured onto the oil in circular, rapid yet calculated movements.

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And this is how jalebis are made

If you think that Food Street is all about food, then you are mistaken. Sitting alongside the road are people selling toys, balloons and bracelets made out of small squares with alphabets written on them. We also found an uncle selling peas on the middle of it all and a few stalls selling fruits. Moving on, M said that Boti Masale is something we ought to try it out. It is made out of a long, cylindrical finger chips. Inside, there is masala consisting of fried chana dal, sev, pineapple pieces, peanuts, moong dal, chopped onions, and chopped chili. The entire thing is garnished with puffed rice and coriander leaves. A light snack compared to everything we have had till now.

Going to VV Puram and not taking a stop at The Chaat Shop would be a mistake you cannot afford to commit. This place has the craziest chaat combinations I have seen till date. Some of them were Jalebi Chaat, Basket Chaat Tikki Rasgulla Chaat and Nachos Chaat. But, the potato twisters right beside seemed more enticing to us and considering the fact that D loved them, we decided to buy it. The twisted potato slices were spicy and got us looking for our water bottles with our tongues flaring out. The slices were crunchier than any other potato twister I have had till date. This made us frantically look for something to cool ourselves down and kulfi seemed like a good idea. Situated right across the street was Mumbai Badam Milk Lassi Center, advertising all form of faloodas, milk shakes, baadam milk and kulfis. Every name had Mumbai in front of them, which made us all the more confused as to what to buy. Finally, we decided with Gulkand Kulfi which sounded a bit simple. Nothing exceptional about the kulfi though, it had a nice proportion of dry fruits inside of it and thankfully wasn’t melting all over our hands.

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These potato twisters will spice up your life

After our engines cooled down, we decided to continue the hogging spree. By now, it was nearing 9PM, and the crowd had thinned down a bit. We huddled in front of Shri Vasavi Thindi Mane and all around us was a crowd of hungry, peering population. I concluded that this is one of those hit places in VV Puram. We glanced through the menu and among Paneer Roll, Veg Roll and Roomali Roti, pizza caught my eye. Pineapple Cheese Chilli Pizza (Rs. 70) was what caught my eye. It seems blasphemous to have pizza from such a place but after thinking it through, we decided that an experience of a pineapple pizza from a non-pizza place should not be missed. The order took around 20 minutes to arrive. And all that time, we were fixated on the guy who was making the Roomali Rotis. His hand movements and the way he flipped the roti multiple times before putting it on the inverted kadhai, prompted all of us to use Instagram’s boomerang feature to its fullest. D told us that maybe we should have reconsidered our order. Well, it was too late for that. The pizza arrived and it was smaller than what we expected. Garnished with yellow and red capsicums with green bell peppers and pineapple pieces, it looked cute. I was having pineapple pizza for the first time and to many people, I was committing blasphemy. We have all seen the memes but after having the first bite, I mentally said screw you to all those memes. The cheesy taste mingled with the sour and sweetness from the pineapple, until the bell peppers hit you. The cheese was evenly melted and the crust was properly cooked. All in all, it was nothing like what the Internet suggested it to be. The Roomali Roti was saved for the future visit. We were almost at the end of the street and it was time to try the famous bajji that Food Street was famous for. Sri Swamy Bajji Centre is the place to be which was again crowded with hungry bajji eaters. We decided to go with Mangaluru Bajji (Rs. 10 for 3 pieces), as suggested by M yet again. Opposite to the road was a shop selling Obattu and I knew that this had to be consumed. I have a soft corner for Obattu, one of the few Kannada dishes that I really like. I have forgotten what the name of the establishment was but it is situated opposite to the bajji shop. It sold Obattu, Puliyogre, Rava Idly and different types of Baath. Dal Obbatu it was! For those of you who don’t know, Obattu is a sweet dish, which looks like a paratha of sorts. Dal Obattu is made by putting a dollop of the paste of dal inside a ball made out of dough from flour, rolled out like a chappati and fried on a tawa with ghee. It is quite sweet and might not appeal everyone but for me, it was definitely the highlight of the day. Somehow, it went really well with the Mangaluru Bajji.

Nothing ends without a cup of kaapi and to mark the end of this frenzy filled food fiesta, we decided to go to By2 Coffee to fulfill our caffeine needs. VV Puram is indeed a place to eat and eat. There is a lot more to explore in this place which would ideally take two or maybe more visits. We missed out on a lot of places and a lot of food but all of that has been noted down for the next visit. Food Street is definitely one of the must-go places in Bengaluru and is bound to take out the foodie within you. If you are not fond of the food, just go and observe the crowd. You won’t be disappointed.

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Filter coffee to end the day

 

 

The story so far

First month in a city where the sun rarely shines

So, how is college and Bangalore treating you?

Answering this question, which was asked by my mother over a telephone call, is very difficult for me to put in a few words. One of the main reasons why I chose Bangalore for my higher studies is because of its amazing climate. This trait sets Bangalore apart from many cities in this country like Delhi, Calcutta where the weather is simply pathetic and totally unsuitable for someone like me. Just so you know, I am very sensitive to hot summers and the heat. I prefer to live in a place where the climate is serene, cold and comfortable. Bangalore ticks all the boxes, although there is significant change seen nowadays, and so here I am.

I had to skip my Christ University entrance exams for reasons (which were out of my control) which would be revealed perhaps in another blog post and this resulted in me applying for the BA EJP course in St. Joseph’s College (all thanks to my sister. She knows why).  I was skeptical at first regarding my decision to apply in this college. For me, the decision of coming to Bangalore and studying meant only one thing, to somehow get an admission in Christ Uni. So, when I wasn’t able to give my exams for Christ Uni, I was dejected, obviously. But, let’s not go into the realms of my personal apathy. That’s for another blog.

And thus, I gave my entrance exams for St. Joseph’s in the month of June without any kind of preparation or whatsoever. Miraculously, I was accepted to the college. Truth be told, this came as a little bit of surprise as I had no idea what I had answered in the psychology paper. Don’t blame me here; I had no idea that there was a separate paper for psychology in the first place. Did I forget to mention that I had no idea what psychology was in the first place? (all I had was a very obscure, vague idea about it)

I went for my interview, which was scheduled three days after my entrance test, in semi formals. It was a hot day and I was practically sweating underneath my teal blue full-sleeved shirt out of sheer nervousness and because of the humidity as well. My interview was taken by a professor who spoke in a really graceful and polite manner, extinguishing every single drop of nervousness that was within me. He asked me where I was from, the language we spoke at my home and the reason for choosing this course. I answered all of these questions in the best way I could find possible. I came to know later that the person who took my interview was Professor Cheriyan Alexander.

I met the Vice Principal and took the fee receipts. I was admitted to St. Joseph’s after two days.

Fast forward to almost a month later I shifted to Bangalore. Carrying 23 kilograms of baggage, I found myself in the doorstep of my sister’s place here in Whitefield. The weather was cloudy but it wasn’t raining. My cab driver told me that it had been raining for the last couple of days and that the rains arrive particularly during the evenings. My classes were scheduled to start after two days which meant I had to buy the necessities and shift to Shanthinagar without any delay.

Classes started after two days (well it had already started a week before) and I was really surprised to see that the crowd was really alive with energy and people had already mingled with each other over a span of just one week. Then there was the really tedious task of remembering almost 50 names, a task which took me close to two weeks to fully accomplish. It didn’t take me long to realize that the people here were really warm and welcoming and in a matter of few days I was one of them. The sense of belongingness which I got was really heartwarming; something which I was perhaps craving for a long, long time. The most amazing part in between all of this is undeniably, the professor in our department. They are probably some of the most chilled out and people I have ever met. Kind, benevolent, charismatic and friendly is the words which come to my mind right now. The trio, comprising of Professor Arul Mani; the walking encyclopedia of everything literature, Professor Etienne; the ruthless critic and Professor Cheriyan; the polite, eloquent speaker were the driving force in the English Department. Prof. Arul Mani, a person with a long beard and a ponytail, always wearing kurtas and preferring bright colours, sarcastic and witty in a positive manner and an absolute genius is perhaps the funniest teacher I have ever had in all my 19 years of existence. Sometimes when I am attending his classes, I wonder why he hadn’t joined the film industry to be an actor. He would have been an excellent actor. Someday, I am going to ask him this question.

He loves to squash people under the palm of his hand (that was a joke)

One thing which I believe sets St. Joseph’s apart is the importance that is being given to extracurricular activities.  A college which has close to 50 associations, a ton of sport events, literary and cultural fests, amazing certificate courses is something which is not seen everywhere. I don’t know about the other colleges in the city but this culture here of not having an entirely academic oriented fashion of learning is something which has really captivated me. The best part is the teachers who actually motivate and guide you to take part in all of these events.

Life in Joseph’s has been an enriching experience so far. Movie screenings, going to events for collecting reporting pieces during weekends, creative writing sessions, tutorial sessions, quiz clubs, literary events, CIAs has surely made life a lot busier and minimally hectic but there is absolute fun in doing all of this.

Bangalore has been kind to me, for now. Other than the constant rain and the annoyingly disgusting PG food, everything is going good for me. The people are helpful and kind, the place is awesome, the locality where I live is pretty great and finally I have started learning the drums. I don’t think there’s anything more that I can ask for, period