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August 3, 2008 / calebdresser

Meerut Fast-food

The crust was undercooked, the staff overly enthusiastic, and nobody pronounced “jalapeno” correctly. On the plus side, the floors were clean and they weren’t playing Hindi pop music too loud. Thats my review, for what its worth.

A Domino’s pizza joint just went into business near where I am living in Pallavpuram, and I took it upon myself to attend the grand opening as the only available person who had ever been to a pizza place in America. Feeling rather superior, I swaggered in along with my friend Kushagra and ordered a “Veg Extravaganza” and a Sprite. Some guys at a nearby table, acquaintances of mine from the Biotech College, asked us to come sit, and we got to chatting. Eventually, conversation turned to the new restaurant. I went on about crust quality for a bit, rather haughtily I fear, and then tuned to the guy on my right – what did he think of the food? “Not as good as Pizza Hut.”

In America, Domino’s and its greasy brethren are hardly upscale establishments. My finest memories of such places involve an unshaven and exuberant group of teenagers of which I had the good fortune to be a part. Here, however, fast food joints are a focal point of the educated suburban semi-elite. I’ve bumped into professors and well-dressed families out for a classy evening – at McDonalds.

Pricing is part of the story. The pizza I bought, which fed two of us, would have left my brother not quite full – and it cost a little over 200 rupees, about 4.50 US. Recall that this is two days pay for a field laborer. Their pay, while meager, is enough to live on and eat cheap but sufficient food, as far as I can tell. Thus it becomes clear that a Rs 200 pizza is an extravagance, luxury food whose consumption is as much a symbol of status as an issue of taste.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. ash / Aug 4 2008 4:55 am

    I couldn’t understand what have you tried to convey by writing this?

  2. calebdresser / Aug 5 2008 8:09 am

    I am attempting to convey a couple of things.

    First, I point out my own prejudices and the fact theat the Indian students I dined with were more “up” on this aspect of culture than I had expected.

    I also briefly observe the different social functions that the these chain restaurants play in Indian and American culture. If you travel to the US and spend a little while sampling the Dominos, McDonald’s, and other such places, you will see that a very different segment of society eats in these places and that the cultural attitudes surrounding them are different from here in semi-rural India.

    I apologize if my writing is not totally clear. I am in the process of experimenting with different styles, and am also putting up some posts before the are quite finished, with the intention of modifying the writing at a later date. In addition, at least up to this point, I have been writing for a primarily American audience, so I have assumed some common base of knowlege.

    Out of curiousity, how did you find my blog?

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