Thursday, August 4, 2011

Once there was a canteen!

that neglected mythical canteen,
now a board for displaying posters
 Once upon a time and a very long time it was, there was a canteen inside a university.  the name of the canteen began with m and ended with i. and for some reason nobody called it canteen but cafeteria (even though the old timers preferred to call it canteen.) morning and evening and night the canteen bustled with activity. students and teachers came to eat the same food day after day and were never tired. neither did the cooks ever get tired of cooking the same food again and again.

everybody agreed that the food in the canteen was disgusting and yet everybody ate there out of some strange love for the place.

inside of the canteen,
once a hot spot now a mere shadow of  its (in)glorious past.
 there sat prakash kona exclaiming "Hi Buddy" to every one. there sat the foreigners gorging plates of chicken 65. just outside stood the chai shop. and if you were lucky enough you might see Syed Syed, or Partha or Susie Tharu sipping their last tea before calling it a day. it was here that the students sat and discussed philosophy  and dreams. it was here where the hearts were taken or broken over cups of tea. it was here that on Saturdays you got chola batura or double ka meetha. it was here where you got curd rice in hot weather and fruit juice in deep summer.

it was the canteen which kept alive the students who rebelled against the mess. it was here where we all had tea when nothing seemed to work. it was here that important ideas flew into our head while eating alone.

all that is gone now. some chairs and tables remain and that derelict chai shop laughs at our loneliness.
this morning around 6 o clock i took pictures of the canteen. i felt like a character out of that Walter De La Mare poem (the listeners) i had read in class ten.
the traveller came, smote on the door thrice. no answer came. undaunted the traveller left a message to the emptiness inside:

'Tell them I came, and no one answered,
  That I kept my word,' he said.

 emotions apart, the canteen must open for better or for worse. at least the chai shop must be there in place. i heard the canteen people left because the students misbehaved with them. if it's true then it's a grave thing to have happened.
i can only suggest the university students to be patient and to be very careful while dealing with people. don't anger them man. it's like the old saying: if you spit at the sky it falls on you.
that chai shop now under the archaeological department of EFLU

1 comment:

  1. Just before they left, I asked the canteenwallahs the reason. They had to renew the canteen contract every year, and this time, they said, the conditions laid down by the authorities wud render their business unprofitable. They have, i heard, now opened a canteen at Infosys, B'lore, so have i heard. God save them and their customers...Amen!