Parrot-ing Away

Most, if not all pertinent events in my life revolve around food and idling, preferably in that order. Therefore it would come as no surprise that recently my thoughts have been occupied by the study of certain food-related incidents that have occurred since my move to Bangalore a year ago.

Like most Trump-generation humans, I ascribe to the notion that if you say something confidently enough, even the universe will start to doubt itself, and eventually incorporate this new truth into the fabric of reality (and the fabric of reality is akin to a heavily used floor mop, in case you were wondering). Thus believing, I go about my life mispronouncing regional words as I see fit, slaughtering pedants along the way. That is not to say that I do not make sincere efforts to learn new words, cadences and sneezes; I try and fail almost instantly.

I was recently at New Shanthi Sagar (dubbed ‘NSS’ by the hipster elite), a small fast-food joint about 50 metres from office. The thing about such Bangalore joints (including Uttam Sagar, Shiv Sagar, Srinidhi Upachar, Nandi Upahar and all other Sagars and Ups) is that they all have nearly identical menus. And by identical I mean right down to the spelling of khara ‘bath’ and ‘rice bath‘ (which translates to ‘rice rice’ but who cares about semantics on empty stomachs). At NSS, I was fairly sure that I had understood the intonation behind order placement. So I went ahead and ordered one ‘parota’ (which is basically a naan-type object that has no shared history with the parantha). The cashier just stared at me like I hadn’t spoken at all. So I tried again, as though I were trying to unlock my PC using Windows voice-recognition.

No response.

Blink, blink.


“Aah, Parattaaa?”

I was somewhat enraged and relieved at the same time. However, as I nodded, he promptly followed it up with an ‘illa’ (no). Drained of my will to live, I went with a plain dosa instead.

Another instance of my weakness for the niche getting me into trouble was at one of our office’s usual dinner haunts. I was feeling more adventurous than usual so I decided I would have the dosa equivalent of a Maharaja Mac. I went up to the lady at the counter (with about a hundred people behind me) and said ‘one ghee podi masala dosa‘. Although in my defense it was on the menu, I don’t think anyone had ever bothered torturing their senses in that way. At first she didn’t get what I said and ended up printing a token for an onion uthappam. I repeated my order, and she looked at me incredulously and said, “Eh, ghee podi masala onion dosa?” like it was a game we were playing. Instead of adding more nouns and adjectives, I pointed at the button that would dispense the correct token, and with raised eyebrows she obliged.

I’m not sure how many serial-breakfasters have noticed this, but most breakfast menus have an item called ‘Idli’ and another called ‘2 – Idli’ or ‘Idli – 2’ depending on which side of the stove you used that day. When you ask for ‘Idli’ you get one idli as the almighty intended you to have, with some chutney should you deserve it. However, ordering one ‘Idli -2’ will give you two pieces of idli in one plate, which is a sudden deep-dive into quantum maths. It so happened that I was ordering for myself and a few others. While I wanted one humble piece of idli, someone else decided to roll a hard six and have two in one, and I did not fully realise the implications at the time. So I walked up to the Oracle of NSS and confidently declared, “1 idli, 1 2-idli, 2 parota.” I immediately realised my error, and my heart sank as I looked into those cold, defiantly uncomprehending eyes.

Published in: on July 13, 2017 at 11:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You can always take dad out for more radical culinary conversations :P

    • Permission to shudder involuntarily

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