Ah, hostel food!

“Yuck… brinjal curry.”
“Dude, it’s tomato.”
“Tomato?! Why is the gravy blue?”

Most of you have had this conversation if you have stayed in a hostel. Or heard it from friends who have stayed in hostels. The best years – undergrad life – was flanked by the most atrocious food ever. Everyone has a hostel food story. It’s the only kind of story everyone will believe an outrageous exaggeration too! My hostel had the most exquisite food menu ever – we had biryani on Sundays, saambaar rice on Mondays, puri-chhole on Wednesdays, paneer dishes on Fridays, rawa dosa on Saturdays etc. Every semester started with brand new promise of the chef’s love – but soon after the first week, we could only tell these apart because we knew what was being cooked that day. Such was life. Then one day, a new caterer came. The cook showed promise – he was a beacon of light, a ray of hope, the sun through the clouds, rain on the desert sand, a bowl of soup. He brought together the best of spices, and the freshest of vegetables, the sweetest of aromas… but God only knows what he did with them, because nothing changed for us. We used to lovingly call our hostel food – grub.

Among the things that we found in our food across the years of undergraduate study – small branch in sambaar, spider in daal, unknown insect in rice, stapler pin in dosa, cockroach in baingan bhartaaloo in aloo parantha and a cat. Ok, I am kidding about the last two. Some guy said that there were regular sticks instead of drumsticks in his food – but no one else was sticking to the story of the sticks. It did turn pretty sticky towards the end.

Here’s the latest from The Occasional Doodle – when doodling suddenly makes sense. 🙂

Hostel food[Left click for larger size]

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44 Responses to “Ah, hostel food!”
  1. Ashwathy says:

    LOL 🙂 brings back memories, eh? sigh… hostel life!

    Ashwathy´s latest blog post – The ‘Switcheroo’ tag

  2. Neelima says:

    brings back memories of our lovely “Grub”! 🙂 To think that was what i used to call food a couple of years back.. LOL!
    And you seriously remember the menu? :O
    It was always an interesting game though.. find out what is being served?! 😀

    Neelima´s latest blog post – Flight to Srinagar – Photo of the Week

  3. ankur says:

    love the cartoon…
    u know till yesterday i was looking forward to return to campus… not sure now

    ankur´s latest blog post – Retail making losses

  4. : ))))) hostel food came back to haunt me. and your cartoon strip is just brilliant. love it : )

  5. Renu says:

    Liked the cartoon. And the “grub” seems to be some kind of fortified meal :).

    Renu´s latest blog post – Who’s who at work?

  6. mentalie says:

    yum, yum, your post had me salivating all over my keyboard :p
    many aeons ago, when i went to college, we called the canteen food ‘mystery meat’. it had all the condiments you mention in your post, along with a garnish of ‘raju bhaiyya’s’ chameli scented hair. the one thing i’ll be eternally indebted to him for of course, is that i lost 13kgs by the time i got out of college. made all the katoris of dahi i subsisted on completely worth it…

    mentalie´s latest blog post – a rose by any other name would feel like a pansy

  7. adisha says:

    I miss the hostel food at times, even though it was so horrid !! :)) lolzzz… poha sambhar, upma sambar, idli sambar, roti sambhar :)) ALL good combinations :p

    adisha´s latest blog post – Humanity in Disasters

  8. adisha says:

    ps – the doodle is really cute … did u do that yourself ? ??

    adisha´s latest blog post – Humanity in Disasters

  9. TW says:

    hehe… i think everyone needs to have hostel food experience to appreciate food in general :DD… altho I must say, my experience was rather fantastic in comparison to most 🙂 we supposedly had the best hostel mess (not just relative terms..even absolute) in the country… Yet, we complained!!!!.. LOL…

    TW´s latest blog post – Gah!

  10. Archana says:

    The cartoon is awesome! I love the way you drew the chef scratching his head! 🙂 So much expression just within stick figures, two thumbs up!

    And oh the memories of the infamous dining hall. This line “aloo in aloo parantha and a cat” had me cracking up. You’ve got a great sense of humor/style with your writing & illustrations. 🙂

    I actually kinda miss my dining hall, haha, partially cause the food wasn’t half bad (the stir-fry chef was awesome!), but because it was THE place to catch up on life, love, etc with all the on-campus students. Sunday mornings were the highlight, students dragging in their feet after an insanely late night, partially hung over, hiding underneath a hoodie – – all of which would be forgotten about the minute we sniffed the delicious breakfast spread, which on a good day would have a waffle/pancake chef ready to start cooking…mmmm so good. Haha, no wonder all the seniors warned us of the infamous ‘Freshman 15’ during orientation. (15 = the 15lbs we end up gaining the first semester, lol)

    Archana´s latest blog post – Barbie Loves MAC

  11. rads says:

    lol awesome doodle…athough my hostel food was not so unrecognizable, but shud agree on finding insects, i remember finding a grasshopper in my okra fry once…throwing away food was very common…thank God the days are over and I’m finally cooking (ofcourse miss mom’s tasty food) in the way I want…but hostel food kept me thin, now I’m always finding ways to shed the lbs i’ve put on…

    rads´s latest blog post – Memoirs of a Geisha

  12. Savitha says:

    Nice doodle!

    Ah – you stoked up memories – good and bad – I remember when the “mess” manager (each student volunteered to take a turn) had mostly potato dishes for a whole week. In protest, we all started singing “Yeh alu alu kya hai, yeh alu alu” (sing to the tune of “ilu, ilu” from Saudagar) every time the poor girl walked past.

    Somewhere in my olfactory receptors also lies a traumatized memory of the cook’s hairy armpit.

    Sigh – different hostels, different memories…

  13. tangerine says:

    Our hostel food sometimes tasted so bad even the cat refused to eat it!!

    PS: i love ur doodles

    tangerine´s latest blog post – A farewell note

  14. Nicky says:

    Hahaa! This had me laughing crazy. I had a similar experience and the food was not good. Well, I did credit my slim build to that food, just a little more than one month out of it and I am trying so many other remedies to keep fit.

    Aaahh… Don’t know why it makes me miss college though! End of those happy time I guess 🙂

  15. Kokonad says:

    Absolutely Ashwathy! Seriously, sigh… hostel life. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t get a real job and became a grad student instead 😛 Thanks for commenting!

    I happen to remember the menu because there was little else to look forward to! I might have got the puri-chhole wrong – it might have been Thursday! 😀

    Heh heh, thanks! 🙂

    I am glad you liked it! In most cases, though, Maggi saved the day 😀

    Thanks, Renu and welcome to my blog!
    Oh yeah – VERY fortified! The daal was known to be used as reinforced concrete. And the rotis were bullet proof. Ok sorry, exaggeration. 🙂

    Mentalie! Welcome to my blog! I loved your blog and I am subscribing to it! Mystery meat eh…? Heh heh! Sounds like the time when our hostel gave us chicken at half the price. On a completely unrelated note, the cat went missing. But I agree – hostel food DID indeed keep me fit. I can never get back that athletic body back… sigh.

    Ha ha ha ha! Have you studied in a south Indian college? Yeah, I did do that doodle myself! Thank you! *blush

    That is VERY TRUE. Mom’s food tasted heavenly once I joined college. Best hostel in the country? Seriously!? Hmmm – and yet you complained – like they say – Ghar ki murgi daal aloo barabar

    Thanks Archana, for all the wonderful compliments! I am glad you noticed that ‘aloo in aloo parantha and a cat’ – ha ha! I chucked to myself as I wrote that yesterday! Wow, you make breakfast sound like a full fledged breakfast buffet! (I skip a lot of breakfast, but I do love breakfast food any time of the day!) Wow – people actually looked forward to eating! LOL @ Freshman 15!

    Thank you Rads! Grasshopper in okra? Well, in the cook’s defense, he may not have been looking when the grasshopper hopped in. 😛 But yeah, hostel food did keep me fit – along with the fact one sweats in India but not in the US. Sigh.

    Hi Savithaji! Are you back from Korea?
    Thank you ji for the compliments ji! That “alu alu kya hai” totally cracked me up! Man it’s been so long since I have heard that song!
    Hairy armpit. Yuck. *shudders* I ended up imagining all of it. Now it’s a picture I cannot get out of my head. *shudders again*

    Thank you Tangerine! 🙂
    I am curious though… what is it about hostels and cats?

    Hi Nicky! Welcome to my blog, and thanks so much for commenting!
    I am glad you found it funny… 🙂 I am subscribing to your blog too!

  16. Debleena says:

    KOKE!!!! “aloo in aloo parantha and a cat. Ok, I am kidding about the last two.”…….ROFL!!!!!….u outdid urslelf this time…how the hell do u put expressions on the a stick figure?!?!…the cook actually looks confused 🙂

    technically not ur best strip (i still love the 2Ds the best) but definitely ur best drawing 🙂

    im all nostalgic!…sigh!
    i was this confused northi in a southi college, in first I mixed the sambar n rasam to make it taste good…by the end of the term all the southies were following me lol. but i must appreciate my college for getting better caterers later. aww i miss hostel!

  17. Debleena says:

    oh I just read what archana wrote..:)
    I agree abt the dinig room too ….except the waffle part 🙂

  18. Archana says:

    @ Kokonad: Lol yeah the freshman 15 was definitely a part of my college – students from colleges near by used to come eat at our dining hall using our guest passes, it was that good. 😉 Haha, quite the rarity to find a college with a good dining hall though, guess it’s just my good luck that a foodie like me ended up studying there!

    @ Debleena: That’s funny that you mixed sambar & rasam because that’s actually something that all South Indians do anyway, heh. Tastes better together, than separate. 😛 And yes, the dining hall was the place to be on Sundays. I miss college!!

    Archana´s latest blog post – Barbie Loves MAC

  19. Kadambari says:

    LOL! Insanely funny. I remember spending time in the mess trying to figure out what was served. And the best part is we would eat it all.. anyway! Bhukh ka sawal hai! I got to eat a side dish made of brinjal (eggplant) together with groundnuts! Ewww! Wonders never cease to exist! 😀

    Kadambari´s latest blog post – Curry Flurry

  20. mentalie says:

    hey kokonad, i forgot to tell you that i think your doodle is brilliant. reminds me of david shrigley who calls himself a ‘doodle artist’…and he certainly is! check his work out at http://www.davidshrigley.com. am following your blog too 🙂

    mentalie´s latest blog post – a rose by any other name would feel like a pansy

  21. Kokonad says:

    Thank you, thank you! 🙂 I agree, it’s not the best of my Doodles in terms of humor content – I really didn’t know to deal with the last three panels! My personal favorite is the one on gadgets becoming self aware. Saambaar + rasam eh? Now I feel like drinking rasam out of a cup…

    I think it is worth going back to eating in a hostel just to lose all this crazy weight I have gained in the US. Damn weather – never makes me sweat! 🙁 Wow, students from nearby colleges too? Seriously heavenly food, eh? 😀

    Heh heh, I agree – it was either that or growling stomachs, i agree. Brinjal and groundnuts? SERIOUSLY? What on earth is it called? Why cannot I picture it in my head…?

    Thank you so much, Mentalie! Thanks for the link – I like gapingvoid.com too! Another doodle guy who uses the visiting cards to doodle 🙂 And thank you for blogrolling me as well!

  22. Gymnast says:

    I developed a hatred towards Potato and paneer eating hostel food all these years. And absolutely cannot eat dosa anymore.
    Nice doodle.

  23. Kokonad says:

    Thank you for commenting, Gymnast, and welcome to my blog! We didn’t have the luxury of paneer, ever. But potato was all over the place. Every thing that could be cooked had potato in it. They would forget to put salt but not potato. I empathize with you 🙂

  24. Nikita says:

    lol….i’ev heard the stories…just second hand experience. though looking at my physique ppl insist i must live in a hostel too…lol

    loved the doodle 😀

    • Kokonad says:

      Thank you Nikita! 🙂 Ha ha ha! Ek toh you said I was being insensitive when I made fun of tall people in my blog… now I wonder if this is a trap for making fun of skinny people (again). And by the way, staying in a hostel has its down sides too. You don’t get to shower that often. And monkeys steal your food. And your room grows smaller everyday. And you can’t wait to get out. 😛 But thanks for dropping by, and more thanks for commenting too!

      YOU ARE TELLING ME “What I wouldn’t give to be so creative?” :O Which of the following things have happened to you (select all that apply)
      a. You have lost it
      b. You are also nuts
      c. The most creative people never realized how amazing they really were, like you, for example.
      d. The above is not really an option, it’s a fact.
      e. Neither is option (d)
      f. I should probably stop writing options that aren’t options.
      So, like I was saying – have you read the 55-fiction you write? 🙂 Girl, to come up with stories that shock you consistently is an art. It’s not every one’s cup of tea. I am a BEEEEG fan of your 55 fiction.

  25. Ki says:

    I’ve never been a hosteller but erm now I think I prefer amma’s handmade potato curry 😛

    LOVE the doodle. What wouldn’t I give to be so creative. *sigh*

  26. Uddipan Pal says:

    Its a nice blog!! 🙂 .. reminiscence of the hostel food takes me back to those golden days!! Well, just to inform – ‘I had the privilege to find a screw inside dal’. and of course, dead small cockroaches were not very uncommon in our hostel food!! Keep writing!! 🙂

    • Kokonad says:

      Screw inside dal? Ha ha ha! That’s pretty screwed up, like college is not enough!
      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting Uddipan, do keep visiting!

  27. riya says:

    nice post. i have never had to live in a hostel barring a few days at IIMC for a contest.. but i hear similar stories from dad all the time- am quite looking forward to the flavours i have missed out on, coz theres a chance of my landing in a hostel pretty soon

    and yes, i love the doodle.

    • Kokonad says:

      Hi Riya! Welcome to my blog! Thanks for commenting too!
      Ooh, hostel pretty soon, eh? 🙂 Look forward to it – it’s going to be the best years of your life. Unless you are a padhaaku. Are you? 😀

  28. Reva says:

    😀 hilarious!!! but there’s this other thing too…even if ur a fab cook…cooking everyday and eating ur own food is slow poison for your taste buds. Hostel food accelerates the process!
    Reva´s latest post – Back to the Future!

  29. God you like this blogging Badshah. I forgot the comment I was supposed to type. And moreover
    they have said everything I could have. But your simply great, you can think and express just
    so well. And your diagrams are fantastic, ever considered getting published etc ?
    Delphian Oracle´s latest post –

  30. Kokonad says:

    Heh heh, true true! I have this weird thing with my cooking – after I am done cooking an awesome meal, I lose all appetite for it! It’s SO BIZZARE. I always need some fresh air before I get back the wish to eat it… I need to do something about it… 🙂
    You’ve been fairly missing from the blogging circuit – busy at work, I presume? (Of course, you’ve said all about it in your recent most entry!)

    #Delphian Oracle:
    Blogging Badshaah! Ha ha ha! Well, thank you A! 🙂 Nyaah.. .me not publishing – most of my theme-based ideas run out of gas after a while – like for the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking of what 2D I want to make – I am drawing a blank! Talk of writer’s block!

  31. Ishu says:

    Sigh.. I really miss hostel life..
    I remember – we used to stand for about half an hour in a queue for what the hostel authorities called “paper Roast Dosa”. It tasted like paper, alright..
    Ishu´s latest post – An open letter to Shahrukh Khan

  32. Roshmi says:

    Ha! Ha! Ha!

    I guess… everyone goes through the “hostel food” phase. My experience hasn’t been too bad, actually… barring a few incidents in between.

    But look at the brighter side! After tasting the ‘delicious’ hostel ka khanaa… most folks ‘understand’ the value of ‘ghar ka khanaa’. And there are many surprised (and delighted) mothers, too 🙂

    btw… there is a near-deafening silence lately… on your blog…!
    Roshmi´s latest post – I know I’m late, but… the award goes to…

  33. Hey,
    I have lots of time these days, but you aren’t updating. Do I need to threat you ?
    None of the nice blogs are updating themselves 🙁 Such a sad thing
    Delphian Oracle´s latest post –

  34. brownphantom says:

    The canteen wallahs taught you that you can’t have everything at the same time. You see, they had your best interests in mind and furthered the all round growth.
    By the way, chicken is our neighbour-hostel used to be quite on the lines of your desciptions and with that when a few of my friends started noticing disappearances of stray-dogs around the hostel, guys stopped eating non-veg for a month.

  35. Kokonad says:

    Aaah, paper dosa – sounds like you can get paper cut from that! 😛 “Careful near the edges!”

    I am sorry about the silence on my blog – it was work and activities combined with a general writer’s block 🙂
    I do agree that ‘ghar ka khaana’ gained extreme popularity on my palate chart! Man, did I miss daal-bhaat and simple bhindi curry – which I used to really dislike when I was in school! Life does have funny ways of putting things in perspective!

    #Delphian Oracle:
    Ah, sorry re! I am really really sorry… been busy with too many things on my hands. But I finally did, and one more coming before the weekend too! And one more by next Monday or so. 🙂

    Heh heh heh… we had that with our hostel cat! 🙂 And yeah, sure. They had our best interests in mind and furthered the “all round” (really?) growth.

  36. Foreign Desi says:

    Haha i love the comic strip!

    I think I will NOT use this time to tell you about this delicious veggie restaurant we have on campus, or our “Monday night is Indian Night” (Their pulaav/daal/chana/parata was actually pretty good!), and our intense variety. Maybe I’ll skip out on telling you about how all the universities compete to have the best food. Yes, not a good time 😛
    Foreign Desi´s latest post – You can hear my voice.

  37. Kokonad says:

    #Foreign desi:
    Not a good time indeed.
    Competition? Really?

  38. chitz says:

    good one..took me back 2 my hostel days…:)..even we had a case of plastic n a worm episode in our food…
    chitz´s latest post – A Reality Check….

  39. Kokonad says:

    Thank you Chitz! Plastic and worm should be considered part of our regular diet in hostels, in my opinion! In fact, our primary source of iron in the food was stapler pins! 🙂
    Welcome to my blog, Chitz, and thank you for commenting!

  40. Dharini says:

    LOL, cant totally identify with this! I remember we used to wonder what our hostel chapathis were made out of! Horsehide, maybe? 😀

  41. Kokonad says:

    Aah, the eternal question of the bulletproof rotis! 😀

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