So last weekend found me driving out of Bangalore. NH7 was as spruced up as they come. Some miles and soundtracks later we were in Pondicherry. Now what does a ramta jogi expects of a coastal place? Is ONE decent public beach too much to ask for? How many does sweet pondi have? ZILCH. But this story is not about that. We found a very decent public beach at Mahabalipuram(Mammalapuram) cruising along the East Coast Road which actually does justice to its name and is pretty scenic and a pleasure to drive on. So after trupt of sea darshan we set out for Bangalore asking around for the best route to the white-indica-drivers. (They Know)
It turned out that the best route was through Kanchipuram. Yes yes its the place where thousands of silkworm die everyday so that YOU can have that kanjivaram . Nobody thought of a Save SilkILK Foundation before , eh.
But I digress. So we found ourselves in Kancheepuram. Now if Malgudi ever grows up to be a Big Town this would be it. It even has a Railway Road. And on Railway Road we found our elixir store simplistically named as Hotel Sakthy Ganapathy. We city bred and tamil ignorant went in. Neelima was outrageously dressed in a Tee and a Jeans and caught a few stares. I asked her to wear her shiny Blouse and Skirt(Kanjivaram Borders) next time. Thats conservative back there. Seriously. And I digress again. Back to the hotel. So we walk in and ten pair of eyes stare at us. We find a table and make ourselves uncomfortable. And we wait for the waiter(no pun). The waiter , a middle aged greying hair kind comes to our table and looks at us expectantly. We return the compliment. And after some one and a half minute of silent mutual admiration Nitin comes up with the magical words “Menu lana yaar”. Incomprehension sets in again. Neel draws a rectangle in air and mouths the word “menu”. He magically understands and gets the menu. Wonders of Wonder. The menu was in the most ancient language of Bharatvarsh, Tamil. Hmm. We plead incomprehension again. This time with our eyes. The bright guy finally gets it that we were ignorant of that great language. He gets a menu in english. And mind you he had to search for even the Tamil Menu. It dawned upon me that everything was word of mouth here. City breds , I tell you.
Hmm. So finally we had the menu in our hand and was pleasantly surprised to find Paneer Butter Masala and Butter Naan finding a mention. We quickly order it with a smile and I admit , some trepidation. And we wait.
Suddenly Nitin has a brainwave. Shouldn’t we be eating Idly and Vadas in this glorious town and IdlyHotBed. Sumit jumps at the thought. So we summon the bright guy again with combination of hand signs and intangible sounds. He comes over again expectantly. I try to explain him that we want to cancel the order. He understands immediately and is alarmed. He walks away shaking his head violently in a no. Hmm. Now what do we do? The Idly occupies our mind so we decide to have both the North Indian and South Indian Combo. We were four and we are yeng. So we call him again and express our desires. He looks suitably alarmed but agrees this time and informs us that vada is the wrong thing to ask for. In these parts it goes by the name of bonda. We slurp suitably.
So the moment of truth arrives and with it arrives a hot steaming plate of Three Idly and One Wholesome and Round Bonda. Bonda was golden brown and crisp as it is supposed to be. The Idlies were pristine white and fluffy. The accompaniment was Light Brown Groundnut Chutney tadka maar ke, White Coconut Chutney and of course Sambaar. It was the best Sambaar I have ever tasted in all of my life. And I have lived all my life(till date) in Bangalore . Its the home of Mavalli Tiffin Room for the uninitiated. Though it does not make me a Sambaar connoisseur by any standards but I know a good sambaar when I taste one. And Hotel Sakthy Ganapathy’s of Railway Road , Kanchipuram serves the best. We orderer two more plates under the watchful eyes of the Bright Man.
What happened to Paneer Butter Masala and Butter Naan you ask? Surprisingly it was very decent and freshly made and we enjoyed that too. Satiated and trupt we walked out of the place thanking the Bright Man and the Manager profusely. Their looks said that they were just doing their job. A job very well done indeed.
And driving all night through the wonderful Madras-Bangalore road we were back.