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Of Rs.6000 a plate Butter Chicken and Rs.25 a plate chicken curry.

November 2, 2009

Where in the world will you get fish curry for 15 Rs. Or chicken curry for 20 Rs. Dahi Vada for Rs.3.

Yes, my dear friends ,or should I say comrades, we are in JNU.Where yours truly spent the two most decadent years of her life.

I was in Delhi last week for some work, and till the night before had no clue where I would stay. Most people I knew have moved out . I need not have worried.There is always someone you know who would know someone who would be in JNU. Once a student, it is difficult to break ties. Comrades in crime from JNU days ,Nilanjana, fixed me up with her old classmate, Ronald,currently doing his Phd.So the first night in JNU was spent in a guy’s hostel.  In JNU girls can stay over at the guys hostel for the night- fortunately or unfortunately, it doesn’t work the other way!!The only queasy part was using the bathroom.Unless you fancy brushing your teeth  and staring ahead at the mirror reflecting some random guy’s back as he takes a leak, I wouldn’t recommend a guy’s hostel to you.I had a couple of not so pleasant early morning sights!!

Fortunately that night was also the North Eastern’s night in JNU.What luck –  to land up on a party night.

Alas, things have changed.No it is not some old fogey rambling, but the fact that they asked for a student’s I card, was enough to shock me to silence.Apparently,last year there was a big scuffle between a Nigerian gang and a Manipuri gang, and the Dean had come down strongly on all parties within the campus.Security has increased everywhere. Checking I cards was so not JNU. But then ,of course, I was let in ,once I started singing the ” Seven Sisters of North East” song!!Now, that is so very JNU.

Here are a few glimpses of the North East night.

DSCF0735 (Sema Naga ‘Life in a Morung ,youth dormitories’.Incidentally my host Ronald was a Sema Naga)

DSCF0866 (  Cannot dance Bihu to save my soul.Not that I can dance anything other than the drunk chicken dance. Can you? Fun no? Not so much the next day when you wake up with a bruised knee.)

DSCF0933 (Umm.. Aren’t  we North Easterns a pretty bunch. And I use the word ‘we’ liberally. )

DSCF0971 ( Hunk,eh?)

The N E night was exactly similar to the ones we had in our time. Different tribes and communities presenting their songs and dances, and you hollered based on your affiliation and kinship. And as was the case in my time, international students  and students from other parts of India were equally agog clicking pictures with equal enthusiasm at this “exotic exhibition”.  😛

Next day I visited my favorite professor.It was as if  I just stepped out his room a day back. His room was as messy as only a professor’s room can be,with books overflowing from the stacks and piled up just about everywhere. And you could just about see the top of his head, as he was buried between mounds of books.

Of course I had to have lunch at the library canteen and my school canteen.Which is where I realized, JNU still hasn’t changed.The prices  were godsend for me. And of all people to recognize me was the bhaiyya in the school canteen “Aap International Guest house mein bohut aate the na? Fish Curry Khaane Keliye? ” Two years of doing a Masters Degree and this is what I get recognized for??? Fucking Fish Curry!!!!!! Well, I am definitely not on the Dean’s honours list, as you could have guessed.

DSCF1046 ( A new addition: a  condom vending machine standing proud next to the coffee machine in Ganga Dhaba, JNU)

The walls everywhere were adorned with posters (very well painted,every one of them), all denouncing capitalism and upholding communism. The thing you keep hearing about JNU being the last bastion of communism?? Well,its got some truth to it!! Some go so far as to address each other as  Comrade XYZ. We humoured those fools.

So, a couple of days  of watching grown men pee while I brush my teeth, I decided to move to another friend’s place.An Iranian guy ,V,doing his Phd in Virology…or something. Though with his leather jacket (which I borrowed many a time,when I was not appropriately dressed for a winter party) and the party going image  I had of him, it is difficult for me to imagine him doing a Phd..I put his bulky muscles to good use by making him lug up my heavy suitcase right up to his fourth floor apartment. He made me pay for it.Big time.The last night, we were randomly driving the streets of Delhi,when V and his friend A,(an Azerbaijani guy who works in the embassy),spotted a couple of white ‘damsels in distress’, trying to get an auto at around 12 in the night. The guys turned to me with begging eyes and I gave in. Though,let me tell you,at my age, it is NOT funny to pick up random girls asking them if we could drop them   to..wherever they were going. Even if they are from countries you thought long ceased to exist – Czechoslovakia (of course I did a spell check on this) and Malta.I am surprised they even got into the car,given that this was their first night in the country. The guys later on argued that it was because I was in the car.Still, I would not recommend this to any woman travelling alone-  or in twos.Even if you are up for fun..That ended with numbers and emails been exchanged and we dropped them at Connaught Place,whereas our original destination was barely  kms from where we picked them up.At this point, I must thank the Azerbaijan government for giving me unrestricted use of their embassy car . Not sure they had any clue what the car was been used for.

In between brunches,coffee,Dinner ,late night drinks and a couple of house parties , I had the time to sneak in lunch  at a chef’s place where he was teaching Indian cooking to a Turkish chef who plans to open a Indian restaurant in Istanbul. For lunch I had smoked pork  meat,cooked with Lai Xaak (‘Spinach’). No, the Turkish chef is not planning to include this in the menu,of course .

And then came a packet for the host. A packet of th ‘in’ famous Anarkali Butter Chicken . For,hold your breath, INR 6000 (no I have NOT added any zeros, by mistake).Not a seven course meal, not oyster,not Kobe beef.This is our very own butter chicken,said to have been invented by accident at the Moti Mahal restaurant in DaryaGanj, where if I am not mistaken, the dish will not be more than Rs.400? The food came packed not in gold laced crockery but in Tupperware.Even the Turkish chef had to shake his head in disbelief!!! The ingredients – Evian natural spring water (am already salivating),Hunt’s Tomato Paste (whatever happened to chefs taking pride in using the freshest of ingredients), Dabur Real Honey-among other things.

I say at 6000 per plate, I expect Anarkali to serve me the dish!!


At times like these, I almost do a Lal Salaam to my institution which still serves food ordinary folks like us can afford.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2009 6:28 pm

    Ewww…6000 for butter chicken from a box? I refuse to eat butter chicken from a plastic box even if its made of the chicken that laid golden eggs.

    • lostonthestreet permalink*
      November 2, 2009 7:42 pm

      I think this one does(lay golden eggs)-atleast from what the owners of Anarkali would have us believe..

  2. November 2, 2009 8:55 pm

    6000??? I’ shall never eat billoo’s butter chicken ever again. It was all of Rs. 40

    • lostonthestreet permalink*
      November 3, 2009 10:28 pm

      🙂 you have to tell us about billoo s butter chicken

  3. November 2, 2009 10:07 pm

    Must be nice to jump back into your old college for a few days. I can imagine how the ID card thing must have shocked you – it feels sad when people suddenly get so suspicious of strangers…

    And you’re right about the “white damsels in distress” – they shouldn’t have gotten in. But at least they’ll go back with some experience of helpful people!

    When I last visited DU a couple of years ago, things were much the same – prices hadn’t changed and it’s so pleasant to know a place that’s frozen in time – no new high rise buildings and so on. But once you step out, BOOM! Metro stations, wider roads – all for the best of course 🙂

    • lostonthestreet permalink*
      November 3, 2009 10:29 pm

      oh if you like DU you should come to JNU-much better.As an ex student of both univs I can give an unbiased view 🙂

  4. November 2, 2009 10:26 pm

    i thought that was a tub of hand cream or body lotion until i read your post…6K for chicken….incredible!! i wonder who they thought of when they priced it!

    those girls actually got into the car with you…..unbelievable! they are lucky it was you and your pals and not some wierd folks. and when sometimes things go terribly wrong, they complain how unsafe delhi is. not that it isnt but it always seems like they are asking for it!

    • lostonthestreet permalink*
      November 3, 2009 10:30 pm

      exactly my point. some people refuse to use ,rather lack,basic common sense.

  5. Sumedha permalink
    November 4, 2009 10:17 am

    If you grew up in JNU like me with ‘JNU prices’, chances are that for the first 18 years of your life you believed India had a negative inflation rate..Sigh!!I miss the good ol JNU days!!

    Btw I bet that if they proposed to hike the price of a plate of vada from Rs. 3 to 3.5, jnusu would declare an ‘indefinite hunger strike’!!

    • lostonthestreet permalink*
      November 6, 2009 3:44 pm

      Oh I can imagine your case..The prof’s houses are awesome-esp the location..

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