Sunday, January 24, 2010

Traditional, version 2.0

The Mylai Sri Karpagambal Mess is back in action after having been completely knocked down and re-built. It will take a while - quite a while - for this building to get that worn-out, we're-too-busy-to-think-about-painting-this look that its predecessor had. But inside, not too much seems to have changed. As it used to be, there are packets of various kinds at the entrance, and the serving staff seem to have stepped right out from the old building into the new. Just that with a little more light, we're able to see them more clearly than we're used to.

The Karpagambal Mess has always been one of those places which you could not be indifferent about. There are people who don't mind waiting for (what must seem like) hours to get a table, who make the pilgrimage to Mylapore only to eat at one of its tables. Then there are others who cannot stand the very mention of the name. The latter group, in most of the cases, comprises individuals who went in there with sky-high expectations about the Mess' much talked about adai-avial and badam-halwa ("melts in the mouth"). They did not anticipate having to deal with slow service and less than squeaky clean tables - so every little slip has been magnified and vilified quite disproportionately. With such strong, polarised views, it is rather difficult to take a middle-of-the-road approach to eating here.

As for me, I have no complaints about the times I've been here - in its earlier avatar or now. But then, I'd not be the first in a group to suggest we have a bite here, either!


Sridhar Joshi said...

Good one, Shantaram. But, I have always thought that Rayar's with its limited spread, limited timings and everything limited is better. It is not that Karpagambal is not good, in fact it is very good, but how much of has the hype contributed to its fame is a matter of debate.

Shantaram said...

@ Sridhar: You're right, it has been a victim of its own rose-tinted-reputation!