This canteen revives memories of good ol’ days

PATNA: Amid gossips and laughter, a bunch of students huddle together around the counter as a tantalizing aroma of freshly fried samosas and kachaudis wafts towards them. The place: the canteen that has opened after a gap of almost fifty years at Patna Science College.

Run by relatives Anita Sharma and Munna Ji, the two-month-old canteen is spick and span. “Students come during small post-lecture breaks to munch on their favourite snacks. Our kachaudi-chhola combo is such a hit that even VC sahib drops by to eat it,” Munna Ji, whose catering business spans over 20 years, told TOI on Monday.

Popular among students as ‘Canteenwaale Uncle’, the quinquagenarian said he would change the menu every season so “it never gets monotonous”.

For now, kachaudis and samosas are available for Rs 6 each while a plate of chuda-ghughni or sev-bundiya for Rs 15. A piece of rasgulla or gulaab jaamun is priced at Rs 6. “Where else will students find such a sasta but achcha deal?” Anita asked.

Opened on January 15 this year, this canteen has refreshed old-timers’ memories of the college’s old canteen which was shut sometime in the mid-1960s. “Those were the good ol’ days when any food item cost less than 50 paise,” recalled Magadh University’s professor (retired) Mahesh Chandra, who studied in Patna Science College in the late 1950s.

“From crisp kachaudis and vegetable cutlets to piping hot jalebis and rasgullas, there was plenty to choose from. Masala dosa, which was added to the menu after we requested the then principal Prof M Q Doza, was an instant hit,” Chandra recalled.

Another college alumnus and retired banker K N Mishra said it was an altogether different atmosphere back then. “Heated political discussions would happen over numerous cups of steaming tea, but none of it was harsh or mean in spirit. Many a time, when my friends and I ran out of money, the canteenwallah would readily feed us on credit. Such was the bond we all shared,” he said.

Accepting the fact that the old canteen had set the bar quite high, Newton House superintendent D K Paul said those running the new canteen would indeed have to work hard to match the old legacy.

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