Signboarded 'Ganesh Snacks Center' -- but just 'Ganesh' to Pondy's insiders, it's one of the few places in India (no exaggeration) where the great North - South Indian divide disappears into Nothingness. Because everyone's having a good time here, whether workers from the nearby Secretariat Building on their break, Ashram students, local families with their kids or homesick North Indians who need a chanage from idli, dosa, vada, upma and pongal.
|GULAB JAMUN or KLAAP CHAAM (acc. to Gégé)|
Where is Ganesh?
Just a minute walk from the Bharti Park on Rue Campagne and on the same street as Romain Rolland Library, you can't miss the bright pink signboard that reads 'GANESH'.
Monday to Saturday - 8:30 am - 1:30 pm and 3pm - 8:30 pm.
What can you eat here?
The glass box by the pay-counter contains samosas, boondi laddoos, gulab jamuns, home made chocolates in silver foil, laung, lathika and gajja (kinds of Indian sweets) Unsure if coffee is served here but tea (chai) definitely is. Paneer Paratha with curd is too much (A+ for this) as is Alu Paratha. Also possible to ask for bread cutlet, pakoda, chaas (buttermilk), lassi and cold coffee..
|ALU PARATHA - 2ND PRIZE WINNER|
|Many Klaap Chaams|
|Painting of A Boy and Grapes|
Full rice meals are not served at the cafe but they do take catering orders. A thali (full meal) gets you 2 sabzis (vegetable dish), chawal (rice), roti, dahi raita (curd salad) and a sweet (hopefully gulab jamun!). They also take orders for pav bhaaji, fried rice, chole bhatura and pulav. Has to be a minimum group of 15 but best to confirm.
Unpretentious and so very cheap, you could go in with 20 Rs in your pocket and it's ok. The cooks get the flavors right from the word Go. Most popular is the samosa (I've heard locals pronouce it as saam-saa but I guess a saam-sa is still a saam-sa by any other name)
|Mona Lisa - Not a Misfit.. Not at All|
When the neon tubelights do not work, they switch on the romantic overhead dark pink lanterns. On one walls hangs a morose Mona Lisa, on the other are the iconic images of Shri Aurobindo and The Mother. And the third wall has another Western style painting of a young guy. Along 2 corners are statues of Lord Ganesha. And then.. then to complete the funky ambiance is a glassy green fish tank with plenty of gold fish and other types running along.. Don't be surprised to see infants walk up to the counter, ask for a laddoo and proceed into the staff back room/kitchen to watch cartoons on their Tv.
The flavors here so similar to those of North India. All of the snacks are spicy but never oily or overbearing. The fillings are flavorful as is the sweet red sauce. Alu paratha is miles apart from the 'Barotta ()' or 'Parotta ()' you get elsewhere in Pondy. It was a big mystery first eating at this Ganesh.
And then, I learnt that all of the young guys (Kailash, Ajay and Sonu) who work here are from Jharkhand. They've all learnt Tamil whilst on the job and now speak it fluently. Even Western tourists have no problems conveying their orders and settling bills.
Manager Prabhu is proud of his boys. He says, 'I've brought them all from our village in Jharkhand. They did not attend lessons in Tamil but now speak it fluently with customers. They speak English and Hindi too. We have only 5 tables but people are ok with sharing tables and so often they make new friendships here. We don't pressurize people to eat and leave quickly because this place is like a 2nd home to many. Smoking is not allowed. Our clientele is mixed and very often women can come in and alone and eat without being disturbed or harassed. People come as far as JIPMER and Pondicherry University. If food remains at the end of the day, we distribute it at the temple. Wastage is not good, you know"
Fully in agreement with all points.
|STAFF AT WORK|
Mr. Madhavan who comes in the evenings to look after the cafe and entertains all of us with his good humor. With stories of Nigeria where girls in the marketplace came to touch his long hair when he was younger. My friend Prince loves Mr. Madhavan who is like his own Papa. They are so alike in many ways.
|MR. MADHAVAN TELLS A FANTASTIC STORY TO A PRINCE|
|FULL OF JOY - MR. MADHAVAN|
Ganesh is a way of life to its regulars. But There's always space for more. And then there is Monalisa in waiting too..
|LEONARDO DA VINCI WOULD BE PROUD|