The first memory of south Indian cuisine from my childhood was sitting in Madras Hotel, having Masala Dosai with my parents. It was probably one of our birthdays and we had this unsaid rule in our family which mandated South indian food to be consumed on all Joyous occasions.
Not that we minded, of course. The famous Madras Hotel of Connought Place, Delhi had an air of generosity about it, despite of the cheap wooden benches. It followed the mantra that equated guest with god as aged waiters wandered throughout the place with mugs full of piping hot sambar, refilling your "katoris" without even being called for it.
I, as a seven year old, took delight in the spicy concoction that so characterised the place to officegoers, tourists and families alike. So much so that I would leave my idlis untouched till I was convinced I couldn't have anymore sambar without bursting.
The name of the place had me, as a child percieve madras as the land where rivers of sambar flowed, and wishing I could go to madras at least once in my lifetime. Madras in a sense, was my mecca.
Years flew by, Madras Hotel was closed down one day by the owners when it was doing excellent business. I forgot all about it and proceeded to patron alternate places. I then joined BITS Pilani for my Engineering and by some strange quirk of fate, was assigned Chennai to go to for my Professional Training.
I was told about the city by seniors, friends and ex-girlfriends, almost all of which was negative. But now that I'm here, and have got to know people and places here, I feel that it's been all I wished it would be, in all respects but one.
Sambar Saucers, when you order a dosai are tiny, almost non-existent, and getting them refilled is so much hassle, that one would rather have it dry.
It's like my portal to the broth I was and am in love with was closed forever with Madras Hotel. I pray that I'm wrong and my grey-haired guardian angel, dutifully clad in a madras hotel uniform will somehow lead me to my mecca, this time in Chennai.