On the way to Goa, took a detour to visit a couple of temples in coastal Karnataka. Temples in that part of Karnataka provide free food for devotees - langar as it is called.
The meal is simple - rice, rasam, sambhar, butter milk. At a time, about 1000-4000 people are fed in Sri Krishna temple, Udupi for instance. Hinduism believes nourishment is vital for survival and that's why there is free food distribution.
Yeah, dining here is a different experience. You sit along with people from various walks of life, total strangers and yet feel comfortable as if you knew them well. We ended up having our lunch and dinner. The meal is nutritious and light. Whats special about this is the order and time management. To feed thousands of people every 30 minutes is no simple feat. Yes, 30 minutes in all to serve, eat, clean and arrange for the next batch. The volunteers are very very efficient, why go to IIMs to study management, just observe these folks, so seamless and perfect.
That apart, I had a funny and uncomfortable experience. There was this woman with her grand daughter beside me, seating is on the floor cross-legged. As the food was served, she flicked portion of the food from her grand daughter's banana leaf. I started observing her there after.
I mentioned that 30 minutes was the total time between batches, so the effective eating time was 20 minutes. The food is served really fast and you are supposed to eat real fast. The food from her leaf was disappearing the same speed it was served. I mean, not to be rude, but she was so thin and fragile and I could marvel at her appetite. Rasam, sambhar, butter milk. No sooner the butter milk was served, next was the payasam or the sweet drink. I was wondering how could her stomach and the digestive system adapt to different food in a jiffy!!!!
Marvelous it was. All the while, she was so engrossed in lapping up the food that she was constantly nudging me with her right elbow. I moved aside a bit, again she was, moved again..it was happening until the end. At one point, I thought that she might just end up hijacking my food mistaking it for her food. So I pulled my banana leaf aside, she gave me a 'What??' kind of look.
Her banana leaf was cleaned so well before each serving. In the end, it was so clear and clean that it could be used as it is to serve someone else and no one would have a clue :-)
You folks must try this at least once, I am sure you will have a story to share.