When a cosmopolitan city doesn't have nightlife to boast about, it needs to be compensated by its bustling evenings. The same is the case with the IT capital of India, Bengaluru. With the start of the Cinderella hours at 11:30 pm, most part of the city wears a deserted look with everyone back in their huts. The exception, of course being the IT professionals who don't have a fixed time zone to call as their working hours. Now one of the aspects contributing to this hustle throughout the day are the eateries. These are the places where people from all strata of the society sit together under the same roof and try to satisfy their taste buds. While mostly food acts as the means rather than the end, there are definitely some exceptions.
Being a witness to the changing face of Bengaluru in the last seven years, the most prominent thing to have multiplied apart from the vehicles on road are the restaurants. Before a decade, having food outside was synonymous with the Darshinis, the vegetarian chain which mainly serve south Indian breakfast dishes. Though there were a few other selected places, the visit to those was restricted to some very special occasions, thanks to the affordability factor. But in the last few years the situation has changed by leaps and bounds. Now you can find an eatery at the corner of each street. A major factor for this change is the growing number of people who come to the city for jobs or in search of it. Coming from different parts of the country, the available choice of food doesn't cater to their taste buds. So in order to satisfy their specific needs, the eateries start to sprout.
The eateries in Bengaluru vary from the small mess in your very own street to the star hotels which serve food throughout the day. Apart from them, there are a whole lot of fast food chains, pizza joints, coffee shops, theme restaurants, food courts which leaves a person, planning to eat outside, spoilt for choice. Some of these restaurants even offer delicacies which are popular in different parts of the world. But the description about the garden city will not be complete without the mention of the pubs, lounges and resto-bars which are the favourite hunting ground for the young crowds. Though these places were considered as exclusive before a decade ago, currently they have the largest number of loyal patrons in the city, quite unlike the other restaurants which offer a quite dinner with some occasional instrumental music. During my stay in the IT Capital, I have been blessed with the presence in each of these places and experienced the crowd, music, ambience and of course the food. But here I would confine myself to a few peculiar aspects of eating in a restaurant which I personally found quite interesting.
People consider different aspects while choosing an eatery. While affordability and accessibility are the two major factors, there are some subtle differences which make one more preferable than the other. These things become more significant when there is a problem of plenty, which is always the case in my city. One of these small yet prominent factor is the customer service. The restaurant is usually sub-divided into different territories with a waiter in-charge of each of them. Once you are seated at a table, the waiter or rather the king of the territory is in-charge of all the proceeding to follow. This is quite different from the other scenarios where customer is considered to be the king. Here if the king is kind and just, then you will have a pleasurable time with your co-diners. But in case he turns out to be a tyrant, it can leave such a bad taste in the mouth that the taste buds may fail to recover from it.
The scene starts when you call up the waiter for taking the order for which the acknowledgement may not be guaranteed in the first attempt. Now the situation becomes interesting when you are not sure what to order or the whole menu appears alien to your eyes, thanks to the ornamental names of the dishes. Here comes the opinion of the king who may be kind enough to suggest something as per your choice or might just go by the best-selling recipe of the restaurant. Being the busy guy, too much alteration in the order might upset him and you may have to end up not finding him beside your table. Once the order is placed, you have the option to enjoy the ambience of the place, provided there is one. But the interesting things slowly gets boring and repetitive after some time when you find the plates are still empty with the spoon and fork neatly placed beside it. Now you start searching for the majesty who might be very much pre-occupied with other subjects. Any attempts to call a different ruler outside your territory will not bear any fruit. The jurisdictions have been so well defined that one ruler rarely pays heed to subjects outside his/her territory.
After the long wait when the food finally arrives on the table and served on your plate, you start devouring into it. But before you reach even half way through it, the majesty is at your side asking for your last orders including those for desserts. This might very well put you in a dilemma of whether to end the main course or go for the dessert. After much reluctance, you place the order for the dessert taking into account the estimated time of arrival and the rate of your own digestion cycle. So when the food is finished and the dessert arrives, there is just one last pending request, the Cheque. The cheque can be very much expected before the dessert if you are close to the start of curfew hours at 11:30pm. But if you are in the middle of the day or evening, then the time to bring the cheque might give a tough competition to the time taken to get your order for food. Lastly, when everything is settled, it is the quality of the time spent which decides how much the subjects reward their King, better known as tips. If the memory of being in that place can be cherished, it guarantees continued patronage. Else it might well become a forbidden kingdom.
My own experiences with the eateries in the city have been a mixed bag. While few of them have given me the time of my life, some others have left some bad taste in the mouth. But personally going to a new place and trying a new recipe always excites me. Exploring a couple of new restaurants over the weekend had been a routine which I had once followed religiously for a considerable stretch of time. The coffee n snacks at the popular coffee chain, Sunday brunch with the barbeques, evening madness at the pubs n lounges and the midnight buffet at the star hotels have been some memorable experiences which I have lived through many a times. Though it's now very difficult to keep up with the routine, the news of a new restaurant opening in town still gives me goosebumps. Nevertheless, it's the company, the ambience and the service which make the food even more palatable. So the foodies out there who have a weakness for delicious items and have zeal to try out new things, I would be happy to share the table with you. Waiting for the call...