Thursday, April 26, 2018

X is for Xavier's College Canteen in Kolkata #AtoZChallenge

'Your one month's tuition fee is more than what my father paid for my entire education.' my husband often points this fact out to our son who's studying for his grade 12 exams at the moment.

Our son, like our daughter who's now at university so out of her father's earshot, hears this every now and then, especially when the topic of university fees comes up.

My husband likes to point out to them that he was awarded a scholarship in high school which not only covered his tuition fee, he even had a bit left over which became his pocket money. Yes, he's not winning the most popular Dad award any time soon. He's an Indian father whose two primary concerns at this point in time are:

1) his son should work hard to get the grades he needs to go to the university of his choice.
2) his son should know that money doesn't grow on trees.

June, 2016. My husband's alma mater informed him that if he didn't collect his degree (which had been awarded to him 25 years ago but he had failed to collect it as he was not living in the country anymore) it would be sent back to the University. And anyone who knows anything about offices in universities of India will tell you that it's easier to find a needle in a haystack than a piece of document you've worked hard for.

So one hot and humid June afternoon in 2016, we found ourselves immersed in his recollections of his dear St. Xavier's. One of his college friends joined him and the two of them dipped in and out of anecdotes from their days, teachers they loved and the ones they loathed, stories of wearing two or three underpants on days of caning etc.etc.

'What's your favourite memory?' I asked

'The only really clear memory I have is the 8 o'clock break. Bhookh zor se lagee hotee thee --we would be starving so we'd run down the narrow staircase to head to the canteen to be first in line for luchee aaloo and samosas.' 

College started at 6.00 am for them! 

Despite the heat, we relished luchee aloo (fried bread and potato curry) and samosas with tea that day. There's something special about sharing someone's food memories with them. It's a slice of their childhood you can taste. I think our children saw the boy their Dad once was and forgave him for his 'scholarship' toots (at least for the time being).
Jhaal Muri : jhaal means hot and muri means puffed rice.
It's a popular street snack in Kolkata.
No day in Kolkata is complete without a helping of this delicious, mouth watering, crunchy, tangy delight.
I used to stop by at a jhaal muri stall almost every evening after work.
 St. Xavier's College has its own jhaal muri waala. I was impressed.
My husband's friend made sure we were properly impressed so he gave the guy instructions on making a dish he makes for a living!
Yes, as Indians, we do love to give advice: lots of it and it's all for free:)
In case your taste buds are tingling like mine are right now, check out this recipe video:
It's Friday today. The husband is at home and he does make a mean jhaal muri. 
I reckon we'll have a snacky lunch today:)
*****
Do you have any food memories from you school days you'd like to share?

30 comments:

  1. What a sweet memory. My husband went to St Xavier's College too but I haven't ever eaten at the canteen or the phuchka walla. Loved the photos.

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    1. Thank you Kalpana. The canteen samosas were delish.

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  2. This is very similar to what my father used to tell me - about the provileges we enjoy. I wouln't eat fruits as a kid, unless someone cut them for me, and my father would get very irritated. He's tell me, when we were kids a fruit was a luxury and if you didnt eat on time someone else would eat it!!

    You have captured your husband's memories so well. The photographs with captions are a nice touch.
    X-tacy of travel: An Ode To Wanderlust

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    1. Cheers Seema. Yes, we heard the 'money growing on trees' bit from our parents, too. Now, we're turning into them:)

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    1. Hope you managed to get tasty snack Jz:)

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  4. Aren’t most Indian fathers use that ‘tree & money’ wala dialogue. Our home scenes of father- son are almost same ;). I will need a whole blog post to write about our fond food memories of university and school
    canteen. Though jhaal muri (‘mamra’ as we call it) has been all time favorite. We make something similar probably calling it a dry bhel with tidbits of avocado, pomegranate pearls, raw mango, onion, tomato, lots of coriander and a squirt of lemon. I better make this now since you mentioned ;). Loved reading this :).

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    1. Raw mango and avocado--yummy...I'm gonna try your version soooon...can't wait. Thank you Pinkz.

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  5. Uff that Jhal muri has me craving for some right now though I go easy on the jhal!! I think all parents have this knack of droning on about money doesnt grown on trees logic ;-) Its passed on from them to us to our kids.

    X is for Xenial #atozchallenge

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    1. So true Shalini. Phrases such as these are our heritage: we have a moral duty to pass them on:)

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  6. These memories are delightful and yes, my taste buds are tingling!

    A-Z of My Friend Rosey!

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    1. Hope you managed to satisfy your tingling taste buds Keith:)

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  7. Hari OM
    My lasting memory of college canteen food was choking on peanuts - and to this day I do not like them!!! I could surely go for that luchee aalloo though!!! YAM xx

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    1. Oh! No! Are you allergic to peanuts?
      Yes, that photo has haunted me all weekend. We went for a dosa instead--healthier option:)

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    2. Hari OM
      (just getting back to rounding things out after a few days away from the Hutch!)
      No, not allergic, just that they and other similar nuts are too easily inhaled and cause choking (a problem with the uvula...) I adore SMOOTH peanut butter! And dosa, of course!!! Actually, last week, I introduced my sister to idli sambar; she loved it (yes, I make my own &*>... though I cannot obtain curry leaves. &*<) Yxx

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    3. So impressed with your idli sambhar Yamini. We get ready made batter in the shops here, so idlis/dosa and sambhar appear on our dinner menu quite often.
      I wish I could send you curry leaves--have two young trees that give us plenty of fresh leaves throughout the year. Enjoy the rest of the week. xx

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  8. I don't really have much food memory but I do remember eating meat pies, don't recall the actual name but it's shape like a half circle and also chicken pot pie in school and they were delicious. I can never found similiar food that taste like those pies. you would think school lunches are bad but it wasn't.

    have a lovely day.

    my latest a-z is: xo - favorite romantic classics

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    1. School lunches at the school I taught in the UK were fantastic Lissa. Jamie Oliver's influence was well and truly evident. WE were lucky. Most of my colleagues chose to eat school lunches.

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  9. I love that his favorite school memory is about recess and food ;-)

    The lessons about working hard, and money not growing on trees, is certainly valuable all across the world!

    https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/2018/04/x-is-for-xojayli.html

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    1. That's why we fell in love Tamara--we are both very fond of food and recesses:)

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  10. I can just imagine the pile that degree would be under had you not gone to pick it up. Hidden in some corner or drawer, filed under the incorrect letter. Mind you, I have not been to India so I am not speaking specifically about filing systems there but I have seen disorganization.

    It looks and sounds delicious, Arti! Think I'll go eat now...

    Emily In Ecuador | eXpat Creates Kids Skating Club in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

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    1. You've painted a very accurate picture of a public office' filing system Emily, even without visiting Emily.
      Disorganization is universal too, I guess:)

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  11. I really am giggling - money doesn't grow on trees - my parents used to say it and we also have said it! I reckon our two sons were the hardest done by while they were at university. My younger one who was living in digs in his last years would tell of eating only bread for the last few days of the month until his pocket money came through. Our elder son says of getting to the ATM at midnight on the last day/night of the month to get some dosh/cash. They are now both self-employed and can say in hindsight that they appreciated the frugality of their parents!!!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your sons's stories Susan. Frugality is a good thing to pass on to the children. It keeps them grounded. Like your son, I remember days when I had just enough money to but the one liter milk packet to last an entire day--usually the last 2/3 days of a month (at University), so I'd save most of it for dinner to ensure a good night's sleep.

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  12. The jhaal muri sounds delicious (as does Pinkz variation) - yum! My parents used to say that money doesn't grow on trees as well. But my mother totally confused the issue, when she insisted and convinced my brother that "apple slices" - a pastry from our local bakery - grew on trees behind the bakery. I think I hold her responsible for my early love I trees - I was always looking to see what might be growing on them. :-)

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    1. How magical is this image of pastry on trees. Thank you for this:)

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  13. :) Lived in Kolkata for 7 years- till 4th std. Aamio Jhaal Muri ta khoob miss kori! :) My taste buds are tingling right now! Like your easy yet engaging style of story-telling.

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    1. It's coming up to noon while I'm reading your comment. And I reckon, it will be jhaal murri for lunch for me today--wish I could hit a share button and send you some.

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