Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Soup Nazi Siddappa

I was sitting in front of the tube a few days back and happened to catch the re-run of Seinfeld, Season 7, "The Soup Nazi". I had not watched this one before! It was hilarious, it took me back to a time when I had gone along with the baais for a visit to "Siddappana Hotel".

Mr. Siddappa makes this guy look like a harmless little school girl eating some candy

(This incident is real, happened in 2001. I have however, taken a few (very few, actually) creative liberties. And the post is long, and kind of boring too)

Sampangiramanagara (OK, I shall help some of you guys out, Sampangi Rama Nagara, not some butchered, sumpung ram nugur) is one of the older areas of Bengaluru. Narrow lanes, crowding houses, some temples, some bars, dark and dusty corner kirana stores, flower vendors advertising their wares early in the morning, you get the picture. In one of the parks in Sampangiramanagara, there is this small temple beside a huge banyan tree (not peepal tree). And right beside that temple, in the park is a small, old, almost derelict house for the caretaker of the temple, Mr. Siddappa, cook and terrorist extraordinaire. He runs a hotel there, early in the mornings to augment his income and to generally terrorize people. He can give the Soup Nazi the shivers and a complex to boot.

It was a cold Sunday morning in the year 2001. We set out on our bikes to pay a visit to Siddappana Hotelu. There were general complaints and grumbling as the previous night had been spent trying to yank our heads off our necks at "Purple Haze" listening to some awesome stuff by Metallica and co. (Please dont go there now, it is no longer what it was, siiigggghhh! I feel sad for that place now and for myself, for losing such an awesome pub, R.I.P, PH) It dint take long for us to have the first glimpse of the legendary place. There were the usual assortment of high end luxury cars, SUVs, bikes and scooters (it was 2001) that are found near any self-respecting eat out. We parked our bikes and proceeded towards the house cum hotel.

Now, this house or hotel or watever was small, verry small. At first, we wondered how all the people that the vehicles parked outside the park suggested could possibly be inside this place. We found that out soon enough. There was quite a long queue outside. With all manner of people standing outside. There was the poltry marwari in starched white kurta pyjama and khollapuri chappals, a couple of Vysyas who probably ran their own businesses, attired in half sleeved shirts and brown pants, sun glinting off the gold bracelet, chain and the odd ring or two on each hand. There was also a Ray Ban wearing, government aafisar types, and some other people, the usual normal people, or so it seemed. (This area seemed to have a larger than usual representation from the traditional business communities of India)

We went in and parked ourselves at the end of the queue wondering what it is that was served inside that had so many people waiting outside. And all of them, except us, carried their own plates, imagine that. We would soon find out why.

After about 10 minutes or so of standing in the queue, the legendary jail warden cum restauranter, Mr. Siddappa comes out and glares at all of us standing in the queue, and barks "ashte ivattu, inna yaaru barongilla" (Thats it for today, nobody else should come) and walks back in.

Within a few mins two marwari kids (late teens) join in, and stand at the end of the queue. A few more minutes later, Mr. Siddappa comes out, gives the most dirty look at the last two people in the queue who had joined in after his declaration. The look is one of sheer disgust mixed with rage and loathing. "helalillven ri, time aaytu, ashte, innond dina banni" (Din't I tell (you) earlier? times up, thats it, come another day) The two young people look like they have been unfairly denied permission to enter heaven by chitragupta, Lord Yama's assistant citing some minor mischief they made as a kid. They said nothing, devastated, they slinked away. We were stunned. And we found it extremely funny at the same time. Looks of disbelief were quickly exchanged. Suddenly, the morning looked great.

There was more to come. 10 minutes later, when we were the next in line to enter the sacred place, for it could not be anything but sacred, from what we had seen till then, a poltry, middle aged marwari gentleman entered the park and unfortunately for him , an already agitated Mr Siddappa was standing outside. As soon as Siddappa saw him, like a sadistic drill instructor torturing a hapless new cadet, he jumped on him. "time aagoytu hogri. ivattu enu sigalla. en ri maadthiddri ishthottu? hogi, hogi" (go away, time is up. you will get nothing today. what were you doing till now. go away, go go). And the dejected victim gets desperate. "please ri, ivattu ond dina bittbidi, please sir, pleaaaassssseeee" (please sir, just this once let me in, please sir {sob, sniff}) Mr. Siddappa then walks away with a contempteous turn. When he comes back a few minutes later, he finds that "customer" still standing there, with pleading eyes that looked like they would burst and a flood of tears would wash us all away along with the invaluable eatables inside the hotel. Ignoring the pleading fluttering of eyelashes, Mr. Siddappa says, "beligge bega barakke aagallva?" (cant you come earlier in the morning) "naale banni" (come tomorrow) and with a final glare reduces the "customer" (aka drug addict) to abejct dejection and the customer slowly dragged his almost lifeless body away, with leaden steps. Some more desperate people, who came later, were shooed away by some of Mr. Siddappa's minions.

We were almost dying with stifled laughter, I even saw tears streaming down one of my friends face. (Those who know, guess who would :D) When Mr. Siddappa went away, we were debating the merits of suggesting to Mr. Siddappa to hand over the empty vessels to one of the desperate customers and let them polish it up. He would save a bunch of money on cleaning bills.

Finally, it was our turn to enter. It was a tiny house, and quite dark too. There were some clothes hung out to dry inside (weird) all over the house. In a narrow corridor, a bench was laid out to one side and people who were sitting there were leaving after doing what ever it is they were doing there. We were walked further inside, into a room where an old man was sleeping on a bed, snoring (weirder). He was huge and hairy and wore no shirt!!! We were made to sit on the edge of the same bed (weirdest) while some more people were made to sit on another bench on the opposite side of the room.

Since we had already resigned to our fates and were quite excited by all the hype and the desperate antics of some of the "customers". We were very curious to find out what exactly it is that Mr. Siddappa dishes out that caused such desperation. One of Mr. Siddappa's minions entered and accusingly said "oh! tatte tandillva?" (oh! you havent got your own plates) shuffled out and returned with a small banana leaf on a newspaper for each of us. Perfect!!!

Next, nobody came and asked us what was available and what we wanted. We were served half a masala dose each. Yes, you heard me right, half a masala dose each. I was stunned, inspite of all the unbelievable things I was witness to earlier that day. Three people sitting in front of us gobbeled it up in exactly three seconds. A man, sitting in a corner, feebly asked, "innond dose kodthira?" (Can I have another dose please?) A voice boomed "ashte ri kododu. inna kodakke aagalla" (Thats all I will give. No more) The little man shrunk several sizes smaller and delicately picked up the last few microscopic bits of dose left on his plate (clever fella, he had a plate) while softly weeping to himself. We did not get it, (we had by then, finished our fraction of the dose) the dose was excellent, no doubt, but weeping for another one, that too fully grown men??

We did not dare ask for anything else. We were survivors all. And suddenly, in a flash, there was a small heap of chitranna in our plates. While we ate the pretty good chitranna, we heard another conversation in the adjoining room. A gruff, gravelly voice in the other room said "Sir, parcel kodthira?" (Sir, can I get some food packed?) We just heard a loud noise after that, so loud that we were afraid something terrible was happening, like a herd of Bruhath-kayosaurus' humerus decided to fart in unision. We fled the scene, after paying a surly faced extortionist while hearing shreiks that sounded like "parcella? yaarig beku ille band tinnakke heli" (Parcel?? Ask whoever wants to eat to come and eat here)

We drove back home, glad that we dint get shredded and thankful for some good food and awesome entertainment.


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