Lunch time in the Institute of Science during my Msc days was a legitimate outing of the crazies. Rice, rotis, vegetables, salads, meats, sweets, sodas, coffees and junk food mingled freely at our table. It was also the time when the class room rivalry was set aside and we broke bread together. Conversation veered wildly from the teacher-student affair (as weathered as the 'How's the weather?' ice-breaker) to pets to dissertations. Kamini and Mrun were the kitchen mamas, talking about this-or-that meal they cooked. Recipes, ingredients, garnishes and knives.. described in such appealing detail- I used to imagine eating whatever it is they used to describe. Mmmmm. Bhagyu tempered the conversation by talking prices, and thrifty though she said they were, her dishes were ever the satisfying mouthful. Lessons in running a household they were, now that I look back at it. But would the naughty ever be too far away from the nice? Nein. Also part of the conversation were cucumbers and carrots, and mobile phones. Oh never mind! In the heat of the moment (and it was always kinda hot in the canteen) we'd try some un-heard of combinations. One giant plate of chinese triple manchurian. After stuffing ourselves silly, we'd suddenly realise that it isn't so great tasting after all! So in went the curd rice and the pickles, manchurian sauce scooped up with left over rotis, fanta and coffee mixed together, also with a dash of chilly sauce, star fruit dipped in the salt dish, vada-paav mashed into the plate of missal paav... a phantasmagorical orgy for the taste buds. I tried in vain to make them try my childhood delight of mentos with coffee bite, but some how it never took flight. To calm down the maelstrom that was threatening to erupt in our stomachs, we'd take a long walk around our college and wash down the lunch with lassi or Energee or root beer, pineapple soda, or ganna juice. Again the mix-n-match continued. And a few sweets to chew when we get back to class- Hajmola, Spearmint, Alpenliebe... Leaving the canteen on a high note, despite all the highs and lows that transpired in that one hour of our crazy every day lives.
To put it shortly, my Msc friends were one of the most open-minded and adventurous gangs I've had. We were not a tattoo-ed, chain smoking, pub-hopping bunch of wild things, but we collectively accepted each other for what we were. We didn't jump into running trains or go bungee jumping, but we went caught snakes with our bare hands, we walked on swamps to collect samples, we interacted with fishermen at the harbour when they bought the fish down. My mom always told me to get the best value for my money, so it was always Roasted Almond or Anjeer when we went to a Naturals Ice-cream parlour. Being adventurous, even with an ice-cream, was being stupid. One time, I went to a Naturals Ice-cream parlour with my MSc friends and we all tried out the unusual flavours there. Jackfruit. Chickoo. Tender Coconut. Papaya-Pineapple. They all tasted glorious.
When I go out with other friends, I get sniggered at when I choose Mint Chocolate Chip wherever I see it. For choosing the 'Toothpaste' Ice-cream. Guess what, no-one ever felt bad about having minty-fresh breath all the time!