Indian Buffet

Friends, Freedom and Self-regulation are the, not so secret, ingredients of Epicurean recipe for sumptuous tender happiness. Let’s talk about Friends because my wife and I met my friend and his wife for lunch today at a “North Indian” restaurant.

Actually – let’s digress. Mid-range restaurants as opposed to low range “hotels” in Bangalore serve mainly three cuisines –North India Buffets, South Indian Thalis and Chinese food – with sprinkling, far and few in between, of Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese food. The curious aspect is the spectacularly false aura of unlimited choice created by the restaurant business model. Case in point; if you consider the North India Buffet we ate at, the food served here is exactly similar, identical is a more precise description, to those served at thirty other North Indian Buffets in the city; not only is the food identical, so is the service. And it is for good reason; all restaurants are owned by a couple of business groups (read as restaurant chain owners). It’s like McDonald allowed each of its fast food chains to christen themselves with unique names. Customers then, as we did today, choose one among thirty different McDonald outlets, North Indian buffets in our case, gasping at the arduous task of sifting through the supposedly enormous choice.

The only true differentiation among these different restaurants is their interiors. Our choice today was shamelessly inspired by Jack Rabbit Slims restaurant in Pulp Fiction. Those orgasmically comfortable car themed tables in the movie were replaced here by auto rickshaw themed tables which we ignored, I must admit with little regret, given just how suspiciously uncomfortable they appeared. But then, that was just us – there were many other takers for the auto rickshaws.

The food itself, I suspect, is hardly authentic North Indian. Although, I’m not an expert at kitchen, it’s easy to notice how every vegetarian and non-vegetarian dish is deliberately drenched to neck in stuff that must be the equivalent of Indian butter and mayonnaise. This and the fact that all items on menu come in unlimited serves for a fixed price has a rather weird impact on the anatomy of my fellow, especially vegetarian, citizens. A diet which is so dangerously carb rich, but entirely lacking in proteins makes us appear like the sloth from Ice Age movies – a body which resembles a cucumber pregnant with pumpkin. I’m beginning to wonder if it is mere coincidence that the sloth in the movie and the most famous vegetarian from sub-continent share the same name, Sid – short for Siddhartha.

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