The necessity of a single man to eat outside food, is born out of a necessity than a regularity. More so for me, with my "good" cooking skills.
Although initially I used to get away with "decent" food, which to me meant pizza or an S-Class Restaurant. It takes wisdom under the bodhi tree at the end of a few months to realize the importance of frugality which then decides to re-align the definition of "decent". And with the new enlightened vision, you get to see hitherto unseen places to eat around you.
Once such selection is the R.R.I Mess. The mess is very similar to any mess you may have in your imagination. A house in the middle of nowehere in one of the crossings of the main road. A corridor that leads to a medium sized room, ideally stacked with long tables and chairs. No token-system. The owner sits outside the main hall, and that is probably to ensure that he has the right headcount, and the confidence that anyone going in has to come out some time (or day). A couple of large photos of gods with flowers around. The food starts with two chappatis, and curry. The plates are banana leaves. An unusual practice is for the servers to place a pinch of salt, and pickles first on the plate. I'm not very sure there do that but it happens with an eerie precision and regularity.
The rice comes in a bowl, and the rest of items are quickly laid out on the leaf. The service is quick silent, and efficent. The food costs onlt Rs15/-, so there is an assortment of gentlemen on every table. Yes. And there is a gentlemanly scramble for places to sit. People throw their hankies, towels to "reserve a palce while they go to wash their hands. Some daredevils and risk-takers, their mobile phones or watches (perhaps in the belief that the gods from the large pictures above are watching over).
The food is quintessentially south indian vegetarian with a Keralite Touch. Which is pleasing to my appetite. And the re-fuelling happens at a very fast pace. Only the rice and Papad are limited in quantity and need to be ordered extra if needed. But usually never, because the quantity is what I would call "ideal". More so for the bunch that comes here everyday. Once my table "partner" told me he came here every ewek from a place that was 25Kms away because he is now married (Apparently he used to hang out here when he was not).
The owner is a typical keralite (Combed Thick black oily hair, beard, checked full shirt and a dhoti). Genial guy, he sometimes gives "discounts" to regular customers (He waived Rs 5/- off once when I did not have change. And he was neveer to ask for it again). Once lunch is done, everyone is expected to gert up as soon as possible and stop loitering around the place to extend the courtesy to the waiting otheres.
Usually, the food ends with fennel seeds and a contented mind.....J