Another big change to routine is that the Vihar no longer serves dinner. We were given a stipend last weekend for our dinners, so we are expected to find a place in town for dinner if we want to eat. I’ve been mostly eating at a restaurant across the street, Gautam’s, that is basically a little tent with some wooden picnic tables inside. The program swears the food is safe there (lol), so most of us eat there. The restaurant has a really good relationship with the program. I sometimes sit there and talk to the owner and his friend and collect some new Hindi words every time. The best part about this place is that we can custom-order anything, basically, and if you have a good relationship with Gautam, rumor says, you can use the kitchen and cook things yourself.
Most restaurants serve Indian food, both South and North Indian, and Tibetan food. Often they have versions of western things, especially for breakfast. Most restaurants are vegetarian, or have a very limited selection of non-vegetarian things. The only things that we’re not allowed to eat is salad and meat. Often the vegetables aren’t washed enough, so we can’t have any raw vegetables.
All I want is eggs on eggs on eggs on eggs all the time. I think it’s because I like protein and because Indians prepare eggs really well. The perfect amount of salt. And other spices, I think. Last night I got a half order of vegetable egg fried rice with an extra egg. And it came out to 65 rupees. Which is about $1.09. During silent breakfasts at the Vihar, my friends laugh at me every time I get seconds or thirds of eggs. Hard-boiled or fried or scrambled. I don’t discriminate.
I don’t think I’ve written about the food at the Vihar. For breakfast we usually have a main dish like oatmeal, or rice cereal, or corn flakes, or rice porridge, or pancakes, or french toast. And they serve us some toppings (which are the best!) every morning: palm sugar syrup, cinnamon, flax seed and toasted sesame. Then we have some version of egg, either hard-boiled, fried or scrambled with some tomatoes and other vegetables. Lastly, we are served pomegranate and papaya. I always just get the pomegranate. Sometimes they serve us a fried dough ball with banana in it. It’s kinda good. Every table has homemade peanut butter (just peanuts and salt and oil), honey and butter.
Lunch always consists of lots of liquidy things. Like dal and rice. Or other soupy yellow lentil stuff and rice. Or paneer in red slightly spicy sauce with rice. Or tofu in red-orange stuff and rice. Sometimes they make fried rice with fried vegetables. Or a large spring roll. Like burrito-sized. Sometimes we have burritos for lunch, which just means that we have beans and salsa and rice. Then there is always a boiled vegetables option, especially for those who are sick. Every lunch includes homemade yogurt, which I didn’t like at first because it’s also pretty liquidy, but then I added some sugar to it and eat it for dessert. The yogurt is good for my tummy, especially because I’m taking an antibiotic for malaria.
Dinner used to be all kinds of soups, or a paratha, which is a shallow-fried sandwich of two wheat naan (roti) with potatoes and spices inside. We use a sweet, spicy sauce kind of like banana ketchup, but way spicier. Pictures to come. Haven’t been taking enough.