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"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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11 December 2005

Evening hunger pangs

Just down the road from my grandparent's house in Hyderabad was a fast food joint called PickenMove. PickenMove was where we went, every summer or Diwali holidays for a treat. It was only down the road, but my oldest cousin had just about learned how to driive, so we clambered into the broken-down 800, sitting in the front or the back, depending on age and elbowing power. I could elbow with the best of them, but I was a girl, and sometimes in a ladylike mood, so I mostly watched my four boy cousins jostle with each other, usually ending up with one of the younger ones in a death grip by the older one's elbow.

PickenMove wasn't known for its hygiene. Once, on a takeway order, my cousin found a dead cockroach sleeping gently on the pepperoni. But it was the only place in Hyderabad we could go to for pizzas in those days, and though my aunt's homemade pizza was much better, it just tasted different if we were eating the stringy cheese off a restaurant plate. Once in a great while, the adults would come with us, and then we diudn't need to count out the money in our older cousin's pocket. The adults added a different atmosphere to the whole thing, but we loved PickenMove when it was just us, who knew the menu, and knew exactly what we wanted to order and who threw scornful glances at the fat families who took YEARS to make up their minds.

With our respective parents and aunts and uncles, we went to How Wein's (at least, I think that was what it was called). How Wein went down in family history, because one of my cousins. now a staid and propah pilot, shimmied up an electric pole to pass time while the family waited fora table. Sadly, I was in Delhi while this happened, but I do have it on good authority. How Wein had an enormous aquarium, which I used to spend hours in front of while the grown-ups fought about what to order and who was paying the bill. We were a large and loud gathering, the kind at whom I roll my eyes these days, but then, it was so exciting not eating at home.

Sometimes, my phoren cousins would visit too, but they did the posh stuff. Like the Cellar at the Krishna Oberoi, where we rushed through the main course to get to dessert--toffee bananas. Actually, Hyderbad was rolling in sweet stuff, at least in my memory. There was the strawberry Fruitella packet, my mother bought me every summer, which still remind me of rabies shots, because I got it to make me feel better about yet another round of injections. (Seriously. I got bitten by a dog every. single. summer.) And there was the grand kaju barfi making day my grandmother did, and we'd eat the batter raw out of bowls. Mmmm.

We returned the hospitality whenever the family came to Delhi though, but as much as I pointed out the new food places, they'd stick to the tried and tested. Gulati at Pandara Park, where we always ordered kaali daal, butter chicken and tandoori chicken. I've realised now that everybody who's been born here has a Pandara park restaurant they've been going to for years. I went to HavMore with friends and totally felt like I was cheating on Gulati. Then we'd go to the Nirula's Chinese place, even as recently as two years ago, when I begged my aunt to let me take her somewhere nicer. But no, Nirula's it was, and Sweet Corn Soup was ordered.

Where else? Oh, Nathu's in Bengali Market, for paapdi chaat. Now I order aloo chaat, but then paapdi chaat was TRADITION. And you don't fuck with tradition, buddy.


  1. home made kaju barfi? wow! i remember running up to the terrace of my nani's house because the peacocks had come.

  2. Am i really the first one ???
    Gulati's@Pandara Road, Nathu's @bengali market, galina@gole market, karim@Jama masjid (and not the other one)
    some of my fondest memories

  3. I remember having aloo tikki at the Karol Bagh and Sarojini Nagr markets. That was *so* long ago!

  4. Great memories!

    My family eating memoirs go to a steak house mostly, where once i went under the table to pick my dada's fork and handed a piece of false teeth instead to my mom. Consequently we wondered if the beef might have been a little chewy.

    On another occasion i ask my dada if he had cream on his apple juice, which really was a beer.

  5. you never been to Rajinder da Dhaba?or Galina's in gole market??
    keeping alive the same tradition.

  6. Missing delhi with an even greater vengeance now! ...The chaat shop in South Ex. and the sheer strength of the number of food choices in Dilli Haat, esp. on lazy winter afternoons...

  7. ttg: heh. no way dude! Gulati is essential Punjabi, HaveMore is like fast food type :) And thanks for the link pointer, hadn't seen that. This season seems to be making everyone hungry!

    methinks: Hey, you can't leave a story like that half-told! I want to know more about the peacocks!

    lalit: Karims I did with my parents, but Hyderabadi relatives, coming as they did from the land of the biryani, didn't care so much for it!

    hyde: Ooh, and golgappas from Sundar Nagar! :)

    jemgal: No, we never did stuff like steak and all. Besides, to this day my grandparents have a severe apathy towards eating out!

    delhi's deviant: Rajinder Dhabha I've done, but not Galinas. Soon, soon.

    docs dope: Grah. Kake Da Dhabha I keep meaning to do. Ooh, but you should totally try the Andhra Bhawan canteen!

    vijayeta: I know! I love the winter! But it makes me really lazy and super hungry, terrible combination.

    prerona: Why sigh?

  8. aah!
    here's something i really enjoyed.
    being a voracious foodie meself, i know what exactly to have where. if only i belonged in the yesteryears tho' ;-)
    nice post.
    and you're takin me around if i EVER visit Delhi.
    the possibility of which is SO bleak, as of the present scenario - a plethora of exams all year round!
    i can't even go to B'lore! and that's like 150 kms away!
    and yes, winter does make you lazy and hungry. Love that.

  9. Your post and the attendant comments are quite the food guide to Delhi I say! Will do all these places when I do get to Delhi as a destination and not a transit point! :)

  10. eM, when I was in Delhi, there was no Sundar Nagar. Or I had not heard of it.

    I am ancient.

  11. I remember going to a place called Silver Fox everytime we had to celebrate. It closed down a few years ago and we suddenly looked around and there were SO MANY new restaurants! I think it was a major shock for my family..:D

    I miss Hyderabad! :(( And I think it's Pick n Move... Either it was, or they changed it recently...

    Homemade kaju barfi?? @-) Now, my mouth's watering...

    And the chaat walah across my school recognised my group of friends, coz v snacked there every single day after school for about 3 years...

    Happy times...

  12. Why do I have no memory of us going to PickNMove? I do remember us going to Hai-King and Nan-King though.

    I also remember us all seated on the steps at the farm, eating grapes out of a stainless steel bowl, and spitting the seeds over the railing onto the chickens below.

    Do you remember how I used to make bon-fires out of all the kachara wood, and then pretend like we were camping?

    I still remember when I went to Thatha's mango orchard with your dog Bobo, and he caught sight of a jackrabbit and took off after it, and was running so fast that he clean slammed through a barbwire fence. But once he was on the other side and he lost sight of the rabbit, he couldnt figure out how to get back onto my side of the fence. So he just sat there whining and I had to push all the barbwire down so he could crawl back.

    Ah childhood.

  13. Yummy.. you sure have sketched a very food centric relationship with you cousins here :)
    Hailing from south the only original sweet stuff I got to eat homemade was Payasam. The coconut version, the dal version and the Jaggery Version etc.. And then there is grandma's appam with a generous mix of Toddy in the dough. ( And off the dough )

    When are u giving us a post on Delhi eateries? Will you? I would need them badly cos I am stuck in Delhi this winter, and mess food isn't the best of course.

  14. The most awesome thing about Karim's for me is their Butter chicken (slurp slurp)... even the biryani is awesome... thats one of the things I would def like to try when I visit Hyd....
    And for the papdi chaat stuff, I think the UPSC fellas beat Nathu's any day....
    Recall the evening strolls down vijay path, india gate.. a helium baloon tied to one hand and an ice cream dripping in the other...
    And the Makhan Lal Tika Ram @Kashmere gate (MLTR in short) ki lassi....
    Oh, how I miss Delhi....

  15. ooh happy birthday. but we didn't mention wengers? How? And I'm hardly complaining, I'm just surprised.
    I'm back in Delhi for a month, and I still haven't gone out for food - except TGIF - but that isn't really 'classic delhi'... just a nouveau riche haunt.

  16. Have been a silent reader of urs for a while. I love the way u write.

    //batter raw out of bowls
    We did this too when we made cake at home. Mom would be like, one slice less for u. Good old days.

  17. Happy Birthday eM! Hope you had a wonderful day :)

  18. Ey! forgot.. happy birthday.. and here is a secret.. you are somekind of a cult 'must read' among many of my friends :D


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