The week before Diwali, the boss took us out to lunch. Village. At Amanora Park town, just across the street from work.

I blog about the place not because I liked it. But because it was a different experience.

Have you been to this place called Sanskruti, in Pune? It used to be all awesome and the-place-to-go-with-non-Indian-friends. The complete Indian experience et al. Well, this is something like it.

It is priced at Rs 299/- for the lunch buffet, per head.

It might work for me to walk you through the entire set up. You enter and to your left are carts where you
can pick up imli (tamarind) and chai (tea served in little glasses). You move ahead and you see a truck,
with a table and chairs set up inside it, if you’re looking for funky seating. The truck, as is the case with most trucks in India, has something written on it that’s so corny it’s hilarious. Just by the side, is a khatiya (a bed made out of rope woven together loosely).

A little up ahead of that is the pani-puri and chat stall and to it’s right is what they’ve called a theka (a shady countryside bar where they serve spurious liquor). No, they don’t serve liquor here. They serve baraf gola and fresh squeezed juice insead. Move along the wall where the theka has been set up, and there’s a pan wala.

Just by the side, there is a peepal ka ped – not a real one – just a ginormous trunk set up on a cemented platform. There’s a palm reader guy with the village moustache and a man making bangles out of lacquer. There’s also a little bioscope by the tree.

More seating arrangement, all khatiyas and low tables. Head to the centre. There’s a large screen where
they’re playing a movie from the seventies. The walls are lined with movie posters from the same period. And they have a NOW SHOWING screen which features… ta daaa….

Centre-front is a rickshaw and a little barber’s set up. Take a wooden staircase from the back to a seating
arrangement of khatiyas at the top, from where you can see the entire restaurant/village.

To the right of the entire layout, is a prison straight out of Sholay. That’s where the buffet has been
arranged. They also have a policeman’s outfit, complete with cap and all, which you can wear and take pictures in. To add to your apparent thrill, a man in a prisoner’s outfit gladly poses for pictures with you.

There’s a bullock cart and few other carts and also a mithaiwala who fries jalebis fresh and
dunks them in sugar syrup before serving them. He also has moong dal halwa which he serves from an earthen

For food, it was alright. Nothing too great. Not bad either. A small counter for Hakka Noodle and Veg Manchurian (whatever!) and one for daal baati and churma, which was quite tasty. A counter for pickles and
salads. And another one for freshly made dosas. There were chapatis and then bhindi, chhole, dal, pulav and
a few other things.

We sat on the khatiyas while waiters strutted about us, asking if we were having a good time, and serving
chhaas out of glass bottles into little tumblers. Yes, the chhaas was delicious. As was the moong daal halwa.

The staff broke into a random dandiya raas at one point and urged us to dance. I didn’t. The colleagues did. Some of them really *were* having a good time.

For the price the boss paid, per head, it was a novel experience. But I probably won’t go there ever again,
unless I’m taking enthusiastic extended family or some such.


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