Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Vallam from the air?

This reminds me of Vallam, the blind turns, the red earth and the thatch roofs on the houses by the side of the road! That picture (caution: Takes long time to load if you are on a dial up) is essentially a aerial shot of one of the numerous desert villages along the route of the Paris Dakar rally, the car section of which was won this year by Stephane Peterhansel followed by Hiroshi Matsuoka both driving Mitsubishi Pajeros. One of the red and white Pajeros can actually be seen in the picture. See the Mitsubishi team picture here.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the geography of the Thanjavur district of Tamilnadu or are not alumni of Shanmugha College of Engineering (aka SASTRA) or Periyar Maniyammai College, Vallam is a small village around 12 kms from Thanjavur (toward Trichy) on the small dirt path that passes for the National Highway between Nagapattinam and Banglore(?). For all the hostelers from Shanmugha (ok.. SASTRA) Vallam was/is like the closest source of really goood food. Sathya's was a favorite hangout for me on Thursdays usually and on some other days of the week too when the description of hostel food veered towards the unpalatable.

From the minute we sat down at the table, it was as if Kumar was reading our minds as dish after dish made its way to the table. Kumar, who seemed to be the man in charge at Sathya's seemed to know what each and everybody wanted to eat even before we could order and a steady stream of food (accompanied by genorus amounts of "getti" chutney used to land at our table by the roadside the moment the food in the plate disappeared. My routine used to be four parottas, one omellete, one onion uthappam with (no crushed tomato on top) a generous helping of chilli powder to top it and lastly, one veechu parotta. This would be washed down rarely with streaming coffee. The meal would end with a packet of ARR Fruit Masala (I hate the traditional ARR sugandha paaku that the other guys used to have), from the potti kadai. The whole bill used to be exactly Rs. 17.

Its almost four years since I sat down at Sathya's. When I was in India in December 2002, I thought I eat there when I went to Thanjavur, but the preceding week was spent in a slew of feasts at three different wedding that by the time I left Coimbatore to Thanjavur, I was sick as soon as I smelt any hint of food. I miss college life and Sathya's is fondly remembered even now. Hmmmmmmmmm.................

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