Bangalore Through The Eyes Of Two (Hungry) Teenagers
It’s 6 in the evening and undoubtedly you’re hungry! You don’t want to go to the usual cafes and eat the same sandwiches and drink the same cappuccino. What do you do? In Bangalore, you just have to walk down the street where you’ll see a thallua gaadi (it’s usually more than one), selling authentic food at reasonable prices, and someone with a flask pouring delicious filter coffee into paper cups. That’s what it’s all about! To break away from the comfort of branded establishments and to give into what we’ve grown up with.
A thallua gaadi could be equated to India’s very own form of a food truck. Although it isn’t mechanized as food trucks are, it has everything that a food truck has to offer. Thallua gaadis are manually pushed four wheeled carts which are easily found on every street in India. Like the puchka walas in Calcutta, the vada pav carts in Bombay and the aloo tikki thelas in Delhi, Bangalore too has its own share of these thallua gaadi serving thindi (snacks). Thallua gaadi, literally meaning, a cart that one pushes manually, sells anything and everything ranging from a South Indian twist to North Indian chaats to warm buttered chocolate sandwiches to our very own favourite bun nippattu.
Standing in line at a thallua gaadi, one often finds children in school uniforms and with muddy shoes hoping to grab a bite before heading home and young adults out on a break from the office planning their weekend! Sometimes the weekend plans are made on Monday over delicious hot idlis dipped in simmering sambar. Look on either side of the gaadi and there will surely be a group of chatty college students planning their escape from class! We’re guilty of being one of those from our time at high school! These gaadis cater not only to people who are low on the pocket but also to the rich. This for us is of such an important leveller, where food brings people, irrespective of their economic, social, political, or religious background, together. Their strategic location, ridiculously low prices and delicious food makes the entire city flock to them.
Bangalore has witnessed massive changes through the years. In our lifetime the city has changed from Bangalore to Bengaluru, from the ‘Garden City’ to The IT hub, from when ACs were a vulgar display of wealth to when ACs are a necessity, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the taste and experience that one would get at a thallua gaadi.
Every Bangalorean is loyal to their own thallua gaadi. For us it the bun nippattu found in Kumara Park. At any given time of the day, there is a crowd surrounding this gaadi. But the wait just adds more to the experience. A bun nippattu is made of bread, nippattu and local spices. Standing in line at the gaadi you can see the anna slice the bun open and add the onions, tomatoes, carrot and coriander finely chopped with a number spices mixed to it that lies on a tray beside him. He spreads this masala even on the bun and places the nippattu on it. A nippattu is a disc shaped spicy and crunchy deep fried rice crispy which strikes the perfect balance between the sweet flavour of the bun and the spicy masala, giving it a tangy taste. Makes you salivate, no?
A thallua gaadi is a place where conversations and new friends are made. It starts with the anna who is preparing your thindi and moves to the others standing in line and waiting with you. The conversations range from politics and corruption to the taste of the mouth-watering thindi prepared. The last orders are usually around 9PM, when both you and the anna are tired from a long day but you just wait for him to complete packing up before you both head home. The anna salutes you good night with a wide smile and begins to push his gaadi satisfied with having earned his day's wage. You on the other hand are content with a wide smile to end your day.
At the end of the day It’s eating your favourite thindi from a thallu gaadi that brings happiness to most Bangaloreans.
(Diva Chanchani and Aditya Prasad have been childhood friends, so when asked to collaborate on a piece on food, that too on Bangalore – they didn’t hold back! Diva and Aditya are third year students of the Jindal Global Law School, where they spend their time in between understanding the law and north Indian cuisine!)