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Tiffin Wallah

by Anna Harari
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indianfood.jpg I first fell in love with Indian food while working at a company in West Hollywood and my boss, who was a true asshole with excellent taste in food, always ordered lunches from Anarkali.  I would drive to pick up the large order for practically everyone in the office, and savored the few minutes I spent inside there while waiting for the food. Anarkali's low ceilings and uber-decorative booths offered a sweet escape from my days at work.  And they always gave me free beer, which I would give to the head of the company because I was still 18 and not quite ready to drink on the job. 

The array of foods on the table in the center of the office would bring everyone together and I slipped in and out of taste bud sensations.  I had never liked Indian food, until Anarkali. Then I started eating it all the time.  It worked perfectly for my family because now they didn't have to wait until I wasn't home for dinner before ordering Indian.  I still remember the styrofoam platters (a rare allowance for my mother) lined up across the kitchen counter as everyone served themselves buffet style.

Now I live in New York, actually in a neighborhood called "Curry Hill," because its not quite Murray Hill and its just north of Gramercy and though my neighbors call it Vicinity, (the phone book reads
Gramercy Park, Murray Hill and Vicinity) all my friends refer to it as Curry Hill, which, I guess, is appropriate considering all the blocks are lined with South Indian restaurants, Indian dvd stores and spice shops.  Now I live on this great block in New York, and I've encountered this horrible problem.  I no longer have the luxury of living in a large household, and its really hard ordering Indian when there're only one to three people.  You only ever get to order 1-3 dishes.  My taste buds feel cheated.

2tiffinwallah.jpg A solution to this dilemma lurked in the shadows of my everyday route to the subway station.  Tiffin Wallah, Vegan Indian Restaurant, $6 Lunch Buffet.  That can't be good, I thought to myself almost every day, but my thoughts do get jumbled sometimes, and it seemed like a good idea one day when it was really cold and we'd been shooting my final in the park all morning.  My two actresses and I entered the restaurant, put our bags down at our seats and walked up to the long table in the back.  They handed us plates and we went down the aisle between the dinner tables and serving table and filled our once whiteplates with small servings of all the varieties set before us on the table. 

I can't remember all that was there, but I remember a serving of Barack, a serving of Hillary, a side of McCain, a particularly starchy Huckabee, a sliver of Romney and, my favorite, a sprinkling of Ron Paul.  No, that isn't right.  My mind went somewhere else.  The elections are nothing like a buffet, as much as I secretly wish that they were.  The elections are probably the exact opposite of a buffet.  Once the primaries are through we will have hacked our way through any diversity that once existed in our supposedly democratic electoral process.  Come November there will be no choices to make, only a pledge of allegiance to the right or the left.  I've solved my Indian food problem, but I have yet to solve my voting problem.  I may still be dreaming but I'm clinging to the thought that a multiple party system lurks just around the corner.

Tiffin Wallah
127 E 28th St
New York, NY 10016

Tiffin Wallah on Urbanspoon

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