Waiting for food

Bangalore’s latest hang-out spot is The
, a 450,000 acre shopping complex in Koramangala. This is the first
mall of its kind and size in Bangalore, so of course Bangaloreans are flocking
there to check out this shopping paradise.

Like any decent mall, The Forum too has a food court, and unlike some of the
other icky food courts in town (yes, Bangalore Central, I’m talking about you),
this one happens to be quite decent. The restaurant-loving Bangalorean, who is
now trying to match the Bombayite at being adventurous about food, has plenty of
variety to keep herself occupied. In the food court, you’ll find Thai food,
Chinese food, South-Indian dosas, biryanis, Subway, etc. It’s a pretty good
spread if you ask me. Obviously, when it gets busy, the place gets chaotic
because the average Indian does not know how to stand in a queue and actually
wait his turn. But I digress…

And guess which food outlet gets the most traffic? Thai food? Subway?

No, ladies and gentlemen, the answer is none of the above. It is… [drumroll
please] the spanking new McDonald’s that has just opened its first
outlet in Bangalore
. Amidst the numerous cuisines on offer at The Forum, the
queue outside McDonald’s stretches for a long, long distance. Can you believe
this? Bangalore has restaurants that serve food from 20 countries, yet the
public is willing to wait ages just so they can get a taste of a lousy Maharaja

What is wrong with us? I’d understand if it were some exotic food not
available elsewhere, but this is Mc-fucking-Donald’s. This is the place
that serves mediocre food consistently all over the world. In USA and most parts
of the world, McDonald’s is cheap-ass food where you can feed your family for
$10. That’s about all there is. There’s no "ambience", the chairs are
uncomfortable (intentionally), and the food is average but same-same everywhere.
Why are we worshipping places like KFC and McDonald’s as if they were some holy
grail of gourmet food? As if this weren’t enough, I tore my hair out when I
opened my Friday copy of the Times of India. I flipped to the food review
section hoping to find some new exciting restaurant in town (because one opens
every other day in Bangalore), and I was horrified. Believe it or not, the food
critic had reviewed the McDonald’s at The Forum. I shit you not! Where
else in the world would a McDonald’s outlet be reviewed like a restaurant? It
happens only in India.

If ever you wanted to see an example of crazy worship of Western icons, this
would be it.

17 thoughts to “Waiting for food”

  1. I heard people in India take their ‘Date’ to McD’s and KFC’s!
    I only wish women in Clemson were such low maintenance material!

  2. One “problem” with a free market is that some people prefer junk. You’ve just observed one example of that. Well, there’s nothing you and I can do except grin and bear it!
    De gustibus non est disputandum!

  3. I don’t think McDonald’s cheap food doesn’t mean it is bad. It is cheap that is why it sells. The fact that there are huge lines at McDonald’s at Forum is because people want to go back and tell their friends – “Ooh, I ate at McDonald’s. Did you ? Neener Neener Neener.!!” Kinda stuff. McDonald’s has a brand and huge one at that. And considering it just arrived in Bangalore, this was going to be so obvious. McDonald’s joints elsewhere are much better I understand. At least, the one I saw in France was good ( and quite decent ). Have yet to see the one in Forum.

  4. Apart from what Sid said I would like to add that McD and KFC add a bit of familiarity to what you know. Before we got adventurous with our eating in foreign places the first thing which we would hunt out was one of the branded things.
    It was only much later we realised what we were missing and now avoid these at all costs – (unless Aasim our son insists)

  5. I observed the same long queue (and this from a nation of non-queuers) when the first McD opened at Mumbai. Way back in 1996/97 I think.
    And some friends from my hostel actually wanted to go there an eat. Of course, I ate at the pani puri stall opposite, while they queued up.
    well written MadMan.

  6. I too, want to believe, that this is a fad Madman. When the first McDonald’s opened in Istanbul, it was the same thing. It was THE place in town, and we’re talking about Istanbul here, where, as you describe Bangalore, the possibilities are endless. People took their dates there, met there, held meetings there, birthday parties there etc… It has 10 cashiers, hence 10 line-ups, and all 10 of them would be out the door around the sidewalk. About 10 months later they opened another McDonald’s about 10 blocks away from it. That one too got very busy. It took a couple of years before it got less and less crowded. I believe they have about 5 McDonald’s’ in Istanbul now.
    But, I must say, McDonald’s usually always is IN for the teenage crowd overseas. Just because it’s American.
    Your article was very well written! :o) Apparently missed reading your writing in the past few years… 😉

  7. Just what does “Micky D’s” serve in India? But if its really crappy fast food that you want then you need to check out White Castle. This is a chain of burger joints that serves greasy 3″ X 3″ square burgers with holes stamped in them. They taste like motor oil, or at least what I imagine motor oil would taste like. You can now get them out of the cooler at Seven Eleven and toss em in the micro wave eweeee! And Talk about big spenders, I have a picture of a wedding party in Detroit, Michigan, USA standing outside one! I’ll see if I can find it and email it to you.

  8. Often it is a close call whether to rummage through the garbage looking for something to eat or eat at McDonalds.
    The only fast food burger that I can imagine eating is “In-N-Out” burgers. Yumm.

  9. That said, I can possibly understand why people in Bangalore would queue up to have a McDonald’s burger the first time – with the number of people in Bangalore having heard of places like McDs from sons/daughters who’ve been abroad (yep, the IT industry plays its part here too) – one can imagine people would want to check it out too.
    Why one would want to go there a second time/take a date there is a totally different thing – beats my average Indian head, I suppose.
    Great Dinner tonight, Mads.

  10. I can’t shake off the cheesy smell of cheap McDonald’s food so reminiscent of the road trips on lonely highways when all you get on Exits is McDonalds. And then I visit India and see signs that boast “McDonalds: The Family Restaurant”! It was quite amusing! I took pictures of it and shared it with friends here in U.S. Hats of the Americans for successful penetration of even the worst of franchise empires…and to the unsuspecting blokes all around the world to actually adopt it!

  11. I remember when McD’s opened up in Pune. People used to go to McD’s all decked up in their fineries. Families used to have lunch parties here. Thankfully I did not notice the same trend in Bombay. In Pune I was happy as it gave a chance to us bachelors to have good food at the normal restaurants which normally used to be filled up by the food-loving Puneris:)
    Having said that I must confess that when I am on the expressway the easiest thing to gulp is the Mac especially since they have positioned one of their drive-through right at the beginning of the Bombay=Pune Expressway.
    As an aside- Pune has got over the McD’s and the Pizza Huts and now people are flocking to speciality restaurants and lounge bars. It is indeed a great place for the food-lover 😀 (Beaten only by Bombay in variety)

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