Jaipur Diaries: Chapter 5

A Day Less Ordinary…

It was one of those fretful days when you are feeling particularly lethargic while a nasty boil-like infection is having a gala time irritating you. While I lolled about on the comfortable sofa contemplating the sorry state of affairs on the home front – which comprised dusty furniture and a disheveled kitchen among other things – the husband was struck with a bright idea of sorts. Bright, considering the contextual mess surrounding us. “Let’s go to Town House,“ quipped he who loves and knows his food.

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The ‘Lolling About Area’ on a decent day

This particular food snob has earmarked just about one (pocket-friendly) place in the whole of Jaipur, which he believes – and I am inclined to agree – is capable of satisfying the refined palates of a well-traveled gastronome and an ‘inherent epicurist’ (that would be me). The long and short of this smug statement is that the only place we have so far trusted to serve us with grills, steaks, pasta, pizza, and the likes is OTH, short for On The House. Lately though, we have been looking for an alternative, for there’s nothing left on their menu, almost, that we haven’t tried.

Out of context note to self at this point. Having just finished one of the earlier novels of the inimitable P.G. Wodehouse, my sentences seem to be suspiciously taking after his writing style in places. Nice, eh!

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A perfect Wodehouse drama set in a public school

Anyway, as I was saying, we are kind of tired of our favorite food joint. The Town House, situated rather conveniently beside Raj Mandir in MI Road, is perhaps not the most obvious choice after frequenting a bistro fiercely faithful to European traditions both decor-wise and food-wise. But then, you find love in the unlikeliest of places.

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Opposite Town House: Glimpse of MI Road late  in the evening

Although the Town House has an extensive menu, we stuck to ‘basic North Indian’ on our first visit some months back. It is a standard practice with us. Stick to desi khana, when the place doesn’t look particularly appetizing. On our second visit – just a day before the one I decided to moan about – the husband decided to take a chance with Mince Lamb Lasagna and American Chopsuey.  Both turned out to be rather good. However, we had no plans of re-visiting in a little over 24 hours.

At half-past nine on a relatively cool evening – it had rained the day before – an odd combination of leftovers in the fridge was definitely not an inviting proposition for dinner. I tried to protest feebly but gave in, after a call to the desired destination confirmed they served till 11.

Such impromptu eat-outs are the most obvious digression from an otherwise monotonous life. This however, was a little out of the ordinary and I don’t just mean gastronomically. After you have visited the rather chic bistros and cafes in and around C-Scheme, a place like Town House looks rather tacky with its dim lights, dirty plastered walls and nondescript seating area.

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The surreal dinner setting

On this particular night though, we were in for a bit of a surprise. The smiling head-waiter (who was rather overwhelmed the previous day with a 100-Rupee tip) showed us to our table, situated a floor above the one they usually keep open. A narrow aisle-like area ended with our table overlooking the MI Road Panch Batti Circle. The tall monument in the middle silently kept its vigil on the almost deserted streets. Light from a couple of shops that remained open, shone bright. A few stray cars zoomed past the even fewer pedestrians crossing the streets languidly. As I stood taking in this sight, the red light emanating from a gaudy chandelier, cheap imitation of Mughal-Rajputana architecture (the kind you get to see inside Hawa Mahal), and the laid out table slowly overlapped the spectacle on the other side. The insides of the restaurant reflected on the glass merged eerily with the world outside. Quite a surreal image it was.

We had reached a little before 10 and promptly ordered pasta and grilled fish with veggies upon being seated. When the food arrived, it did turn out to be a rather memorable gastronomical escapade. Not everyday you get to dig into perfectly seasoned spaghetti with fresh parsley and lots of mince lamb (with a slight desi twist) and a huge grilled basa fillet generously topped with sauted veggies and presented with a lot of care.

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Soul Food: Grilled fish and spaghetti

And if the surreal setting and good food was not salvation enough for the ‘rot’ day – in Wodehouse slang – a sudden waft of what we call ‘bel phool’ (jasmine) in Bengal engulfed us on a stretch near home. I suppose it takes very little to turn an ordinary day extraordinary.

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