There are two kinds of office complexes in Bombay - the fab and the drab.
The first kind consist of steel, chrome and glass. Blue and orange carpeting, Nescafe machines near the elevators - the kind of offices you see in interior design magazines.
The second are situated in drab 'industrial estates' which haven't been whitewashed since the last time Rajesh Khanna made a girl swoon... Which was, ahem, quite a while ago.
The one bright spot in these kind of office complexes is the canteen boy from the mandatory Udipi restaurant on the premises.
These grubby but ever-cheerful young fellas ferry coffees and dosas and samosas stuffed with the alu bhaji left over from lunchtime. Last week, our canteen boy Ramesh proudly came and announced -'Ab Chainis start ho gaya hai'. Promptly, we all placed inaugural orders.
Be Indian, Eat Indian
Udipi 'Chainis' is a unique brand of cuisine, an advanced version of the Indian family of Chinese khaana peculiar to this part of the world.
Vir Sanghvi, writing in his 'Rude Food' column credits Nelson Wang of China Garden with 'inventing' Indian Chinese. That was in the early '70s. Before that a few fancy restaurants served 'authentic Chinese'. And it found hardly any takers.
Then, one day Wang deep fried some gobi florets, dunked them in a hot n spicy Indian style sauce and came up with the exotic sounding name 'Manchurian'. And Chinese was permanently de-chinkified and took on Indian culinary citizenship.
Well, Udipi Chanis is the baap of even Indian Chainis. It consists of noodles or rice with finely diced carrot and French beans, cooked in an oily kadhai with generous slatherings of soya sauce. Then there are 'gravy items' with either chicken or veg fried something-or-the-others. Here the sauce is more viscous, garlicky and generally either dark brown or bright red.
And remember, Udipi Chinees is most compatible with that industrial strength Indian cola : 'Thums Up'. Enjoy the satisfying burp!
Bottomline: Indian food - especially curry and naan - has become hugely popular in many parts of the world. From there, it may just be a short step to 'Indianised' world cuisine - like Indian Chainis. Then maybe a further specialisation: 'Gujju Chinese'.
And thus, will India bring mighty China to its knees - begging for mercy!