A few months ago, the hotel celebrated 60 years of management
During leisure time in the evenings, 40-year-old Eshwar P. drives down to Balmatta along with his friends to eat at Indra Bhavan. “The taste of the dosas here has remained the same since my school days,” he says.
Mr. Eshwar is among the many regular visitors to this hotel which is located in the building built in the 1930s. “We have not felt the need to change either the structure or the items served here,” said Prakash Udupa, son of the late Raghuram Udupa, who took over Indra Bhavan in 1952. A few months ago, Mr. Prakash celebrated 60 years of their management of the hotel.
Apart from “khali” and “tuppa dosa”, “uppit avalakki”, “goli baje”, and “buns” are much in demand. “We have managed to serve these dishes at an affordable price,” said Mr. Prakash, who manages Vishwa Bhavan, which is another hotel that was run by his father. These dishes are served between 6.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. and 3.15 p.m. to 7.15 p.m.
Mr. Prakash said his father, a native of Attur near Kinnigoli, worked at Hotel Das Prakash in Chennai. Following his return to his native during the Second World War, Raghuram Udupa joined as a manager in Jaya Café (now Vishwa Bhavan) in 1949. He took over Indra Bhavan from Babu Shetty in 1952. Mr. Prakash, an Engineer, has been running the two hotels since 1996. The consistency in the taste of the dishes at the two hotels, he says, is a result of devolution of techniques from the senior cooks to youngsters and the use of quality food products. “Those aged 18 and above come to work as cleaners during vacations. If they are fond of cooking, they are initiated into frying puris and buns. Then they move on to making goli baje's. If the senior cook feels confident, the youngster is given the whole responsibility,” Mr. Prakash says.
Except for a single instance, there has not been any instance of the dishes going wrong. “I treat the hotel personnel as my family. If we treat them well there is no need of a manager. We do not have any manager in the two hotels,” Mr. Prakash says. Apart from the salary, the hotel personnel are covered under pension and the Employees State Insurance schemes. Youngsters, who come to work during vacations, are given financial assistance to carry out their studies.
There are several workers at the Indra Bhavan who have been working for over a decade.
Cashier P.G. Balakrishna has been working since he was 17 years old. Sudatta Jain, who has been fighting for improvement of ESI facilities in the city, has also been associated with the two hotels for a long time.