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House of Food

HR College is just about waking up at 2 pm. Seated inside their café-like canteen, is a bunch of not-so-happy girls, mulling over the exam paper they just wrote. Chesta Wadhwani feasts at the HR College canteen.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2009 19:40 IST
Chesta Wadhwani

HR College is just about waking up at 2 pm. Seated inside their café-like canteen, is a bunch of not-so-happy girls, mulling over the exam paper they just wrote.

Their table, cluttered with fruit juices and notes, makes place for garlic noodles. Just then one of them blurts out, "I don't think I numbered my answers correctly.. oh God.." Hell breaks loose. A chilled iced tea and the HR special, Cool Blue is called for. And once again, all's well.

Sugar and ice
Hassaram Rijhumal College of Commerce and Economics, known as HR or even better-House of Romance has perhaps the only canteen to offer smoothies, Hershey's choco-chip ice creams and everything from sev puris to a full thali.

Things were different eight years ago. Raju, the stern bearded man, looking after the Chinese counter, who also happens to be the most popular guy around, explains, "HR didn't have a canteen before. We hawkers would sell snacks outside the college. Students would throng the streets.. it would be buzzing all day. The management rehabilitated the area, and got us all indoors.. business continues as usual."

The result: Butterfly Café. This multi-coloured café spreads across two lanes. At the entrance is a pleasant green rooftop under which students from HR as well as all the other colleges in the vicinity (KC, Xavier's, Bhavan's, Sydneham, Jai Hind) chit chat and gorge on chole bhature, low-butter pav bhaji and the most recommended of the entire lot-spicy chicken fried rice.

Counter act
The other side, with its red bricks-like look, huge yellow umbrellas and a bright green door has come to the rescue of many who want to give their lectures a miss. There are as many as four huge counters.

An exclusive table set for fresh fruit juices is a big hit.. strawberries, watermelon, lime juices are poured out all day- to fight the fiery summer. The next counter is brisk with palak dosas, masala pavs, sandwiches, full-course meals.. but right adjacent to it is a little stall, displaying sorbets, fancy fruit-flavoured drinks and chocolate toppings- all very impressive. The guy at the stall mixes drinks (mocktails just for Rs 15).. so clearly the students don't need to hunt for a chic hangout nearby.

Samvar Oberoi, a BMS student has to clear his debts at the canteen but is in no hurry. "Our canteen is the coolest.. they actually get us chocolate mousse. What more can we ask for?.. and the Chinese fare here can easily beat a five star hotel," he says.

Festive fervour
During festivals, the Butterfly Café strikes a musical chord. "Seniors and juniors chat over endless plates of Chinese bhel (served with Schezwan sauce). Guitars are strummed amidst endless glasses of cutting chais. You have to be here to catch all the buzz," gushes Karishma Sajnani a KC student.

The canteen also has a little branch at the terrace which specialises in paani puri and other varieties of chaat. "There's just one little hitch.. we're all putting on too much weight," laughs Oberoi.