Sunday, 19 August 2012

Nirula's - Serving Nostalgia Since 1977

Onion, Cheese, Capsicum Pizza.
Big Boy Burger.
Hot Chocolate Fudge.

If a red and white logo popped up in your head the moment you read any of the above items, you’re among the lucky few from the generation who had their first taste of fast food from Nirula’s. From a time when there were no McDonald’s or KFC’s or KFC redux’s, when we only had the local Chicken Corner and South Indian Delights, there was Nirula’s, where we’d go on birthdays and such special occasions. Nirula’s: A place where parents would promise to take their kids if they scored above 90. Nirula’s: Where college kids would go and ‘hang-out’. Nirula’s: Where old people tasted an actual ‘peeja’ and told their relatives back in Bareilly or Saharanpur or wherever they were from about this fancy new food that they just had. Nirula’s: The first place where we paid for food but didn’t get it served on our tables. Nirula’s: Where we don’t go anymore. Sadly.

Nirula’s is the oldest chain of fast food restaurants in India. What started off as a solo outlet in Connaught Place back in 1977, Nirula’s grew all across Delhi-NCR and certain parts of North India in the recent past. In fact, if you remember, there were even a couple of outlets in Nepal as well. Apparently, both shut down. But what was once a premium dining place for the urban middle class of Delhi, is now just a last resort for people looking for a bite to eat on a busy weekend where every other place is packed. Its sad state of affairs in the current scenario can be attributed to rise in competition and lack of innovation.

Famous for its pizzas, burgers (not so much) and ice creams, Nirula’s used to be a once stop shop for families, friends, singles looking for a good, pocket friendly meal. It gave kids a taste of what it felt like being Kevin from Home Alone and the guys of what a Big Kahuna Burger from Pulp Fiction actually tasted like. It satisfied every Indian’s urge of feeling like a westerner even if it was for just an hour. With time, other, more renowned, fast food restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC started popping up and Nirula’s simple could not compete with them.

At one point of time we used to wonder why Nirula’s was not spread all across the country since it was serving the best and only fast food in India, now we just wonder how it is still functioning when there’s Papa John’s, Dominos, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Nando’s, Quiznos, Taco Bell, and so on and so forth. The list really is unending.

It would be safe to assume, seeing Nirula’s current state of affairs, that it, in all probability, will cease to exist in a few years time. The prices are high, the quality is low, and well, it’s just not the same anymore.

This was my quick tribute to the place which taught me what ‘fast food’ really meant, how a pizza tasted, what a burger really was and how it felt like bringing your own food from the kitchen counter. I’ll never forget Nirula’s where I’ve been to at night, countless number of times, for ice cream, and where I’ll continue to go to till its fate reaches the same stage as of Wimpy’s, which has a single operational branch in Aurobindo market. Till then, here’s a big shout out to HOT CHOCOLATE FUDGE. You’re still among the best.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A Boy Who Hated School and Never Went to College

There’re children dying in Somalia. Now that I’ve set the context, I’ll go ahead with my first world rants. Yes, because I believe my rants will save those Somalian children. That’s why I write, yes.

I am proud of what I am today. So what if I am 26 years old and I still do not have a 6-figure salary. So what if I still have never been out of India. So what if I have moobs and a paunch. So what if I still get drunk and dance around like an idiot. Oh, I guess I don’t have much to be proud about. But does having a mother count? Mere paas ma hai? No? Fine. Hmph.

I have had a disturbed childhood to say the least. Probably the only thing worse than being me as a kid was to be a kid in Somalia. The one that dies. That too would be a close call. Why because I HATED school and school HATED me back. I emphasise on ‘hate’ because it’s a term I scarcely use other than when I talk about my school life. What do you do when your teachers molest you and insert sharp objectionable object in your behind saying it was part of the physical training drill when you’re 7 years old? Or when they blind fold you and take you someplace warm, make you sit on your knees and ask you to suck on a banana instead of eating it? I wouldn’t really know, because none of this crap happened with me, thankfully. I was given truck loads of homework, which I never did, and got slapped on by my teachers almost on a daily basis. The girls never really liked me and the one girl I liked eloped with a senior of mine. I made 3 friends in school and the rest just called me Celine Dion behind my back and in front of my back too. They spat on my face, kicked me in the balls and made me shit my pants. True story.

Now how is that any better than being manhandled by a teacher or being an angry teacher’s slave at his home after school? At least those things remain closeted but the humiliation I faced was in full public and pubic view. In the bus, during class, on the stage in assembly time and even in the toilets, I was never spared. For 14 years I endured this torture. If my school life was my actual ‘life’ then Amitabh Bachchan from Muqaddar Ka Sikander would be really happy. Why because he sang “Rote hue, aate hain sab, hansta hu jo jayega, wo muqaddar ka sikander kehlayega.” I cried on my first day at school and I was the happiest kid on the last. While the guys were walking topless getting their shirts signed on by their friends and fat girls getting their boobs felt up by random boys and allowing them to write their fantasies on their school shirts, I was excitedly waiting for the final bell to ring on the final day of my school after which I was greeted with a bucket of water on my head by my mom who knew and understood my pain and agony that I was in during the 14 years there. I survived it. I lived to tell the tale. And then came college.

Or did it? It’s no rocket science to assume that I wasn’t really too good at studies since I hated school so much. I got an average score at the end of it which obviously meant I couldn’t get into any college in the world. Even the half constructed Gamleshpur Ranjeet Chauhan Technical Institute on Rohtak highway said I was way too average to be there. Instead I stayed at home and tried my hand at distance learning and random courses here and there. Didn’t help me much but they obviously play a part in what I am today. What I am today is an overgrown child who was unfortunate enough to not have a happening school life, who never got a blowjob, forget taping it on camera. The unfortunate son who could never go to college or ever experience what bunking meant or how sleeping in a hostel with 4 other half naked men would feel like. Or party with 6 drunk women and making out with 12 of them in one night. I don’t know any of that. And I never will. Do I miss that?

No. I don’t. If I have never experienced anything of that sort, how can I miss it? Only if I’d been in college for a year and done everything I ever wanted, made all my dreams come true and then got expelled for having an illicit relationship with the principal’s dog and never gotten through anywhere else then I would’ve missed it. It’s like asking a virgin if he misses sex. Or maybe the question is wrong altogether. Do I regret not having experienced any of that? Not really. Alright I might not have any cool school or college stories to tell my kids but that does not mean I was sitting at home making rotis. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s a woman’s job, right? I was busy drinking and partying with my colony friends. I was busy not having sex but masturbating to Pamela Anderson, Kate Winslet and Manisha Koirala. While you were studying at your oh-so-hep north campus college I was... Well I was sleeping till late on a daily basis like every day was a Sunday. So yeah, I win there because I said so.

And what’s the best part about all of this? I am still in college. I haven’t grown up. I still get drunk like crazy, make everyone my bhai, even my girlfriend. I still crack inappropriate jokes, I never wear formals, I have a constant stubble, I still struggle to make ends meet, I come home late at night, I reach work drunk and hungover, I drunk dial, I still look for parties where there’s free booze, I still don’t respect the fact that I am 26 and talk like an idiotic and insensitive 19 year old, as you can clearly read. And I shall have my vengeance in this life and not the next. I shall never grow up and continue doing crap. I will turn 40 one day and still get so drunk that I’d jump on a chair and dance to Munni Badnam Hui, I will puke in your party and go streaking with your daddy. I will never grow up. Why because I am just a boy who hated school and never went to college.