Lunch time here can be quite an ordeal. Over 4000 people work in our clients building and most all of them take lunch between 1:00 and 3:00. So needless to say it’s very crowded. Luckily we have a lot of options. Probably at least 50% percent of the workers bring their own lunches and heat their food in the microwaves provided. Indian lunchpails consist of little stackable containers zipped inside of an insulated cloth. We can also choose from Subway, Italian food, a sandwich and pasta cafe, ice cream shop or an Indian buffet. If all else fails you can shop in the onsite grocery for snacks or soft drinks.
The food is really cheap. The buffet is about .80 USD. A six inch Subway sandwich runs about $2, but the options are quite different. The only meat they have is chicken and you can choose between Masala and Tikka. Whatever you get, and wherever you get it, it’s guaranteed to be spicy. All the food here is spicy. They even put spices in their tea and cookies. They call them “digestive cookies” because they are supposed to be eaten at the end of a meal to aid in digestion.
There is a beautiful courtyard to eat lunch in. The palm trees, fountains and plants create a brief but peaceful refuge from work, if you are lucky enough to score a seat out there. If not, there are also lots of tables in the lunch room. I still rarely get any Indian people to sit next to me, or even agree to let me sit with them. It’s 6th grade lunch room all over again.
Outside of the building are more food options. Lately the pollution has improved and it’s been about 80 degrees out, so I’ve been heading outside to enjoy it while I can. Within the next 6 weeks it will become unbearably hot, over 100 degrees I’m told.
There is a great little street food vendor that provides the most delicious Masala Dosa from his food cart. It cost only 40 rupees, which is about 60 cents USD. Of course the normal health procautions that we have in the states are of no concern here and there aren’t any regulations. There are no plastic gloves, hand washing, temperature control, etc. His two young boys work beside him. The youngest, probably around 6 years old, is always blushing when I talk to him. I typically give him ten rupees for himself and he gives me the biggest smile.
That is also the area where you can buy freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and orange juice. Everyone hangs out and drinks chai tea and smokes. All the vendors just freely dump their garbage in a vacant lot next to the building. Occasionally you see wild pigs, cows or dogs nosing through it hoping for a tasty treat. There are also swarms of flies and lots of dust from the traffic. Lunch time is an odd mixture of contemporary and old school, modern and ancient, clean and dirty, depending on your mood. Got to go now. Lunch time is over….