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The Road to Taste of India

April 10, 2013

I recently saw Road, Movie and it proved to be a quite an interesting watch. A movie about a mobile cinema being transported through a desolated desert, with just a handful of characters and no song-dance routines – a tough task for a director to keep an audience interested. But a compact and tight script with good actors and a brilliant background score had me engrossed.

There was an very interesting scene in the middle of the movie, where Satish Kaushik brings Abhay Deol and gang to a place in the middle of nowhere, expecting a mela of some sorts to be going on where they could show their movie. Disappointed, Abhay starts venting his frustration, but Satish confidently tells Abhay to setup his cinema. “Cinema hoga toh mela bhi hoga. Khana hoga, paani hoga, log bhi aayenge.” And guess what, thats what happened. The movie of course was a disaster at the box office. No song and dance. Come on. But then, that is not the point I am trying to make.

AID Penn State had its fifteenth annual food festival, The Taste of India on Saturday and as always the event turned out to be a sublime blend of various cultures coming together to make the evening very special. I have been a part of the volunteering team for this event for a few years now, and every time I try to imagine how someone could have conjured up this idea back then, to cook food for over 500 people. That too, Indian food; for the culinary complexities differ depending on which part of the country one comes from. To someone from Gujarat, Kadak would be an evening snack, while to someone like me, it would rather refer to a special kind of tea. I once remember being an audience to a conversation between two friends who were arguing as to how Idilees should be made – both guys were from different states. I ended up  having a sandwich for dinner that night. But I digress.

So to conceive this idea of cooking Indian food – that too vegetarian food in a predominantly meat-eating country – for such a huge gathering and then, expect people to show up for it is like expecting Sachin and Ponting to bat for the same team. Oh wait, isn’t that happening this year in the IPL.

So while this idea was bold and out of the box back in the day, it worked, because it was a good idea. Indian food is tasty, there are no two ways about it. And once a recipe is fixed upon, then the execution is straight forward. Heat oil, throw in cummin seeds, fry the onions, add turmeric powder … you get the gist. And then, when you have a strong student-community bonding to top it off, then to make an idea like this to work is like asking Shahrukh Khan to overact in a scene.

ToI has slowly evolved with time. As students come and go, new logistics are thrown in. Some stick, some are forgotten. But it really is endearing to see a lot of alumni make it a point to come for this event and make it an evening to remember.

Here’s to the hope that ToI gets tastier with every passing year.

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