We arrived in Chennai today, which will be the last leg of our seemingly packed and rushed India trip. After some wandering around, which included walking along an extremely dirty and trash-filled beach, we ended up at Ratna Cafe, a very local eatery which serves much loved South Indian specialties such as idlis and vadas soaked in sambar. The restaurant keeps its doors wide open, so obviously the front of the restaurant is going to feel exactly as hot and humid as it does outside. Luckily for us, the humidity in Chennai was far lower than in the previous four cities we visited further north, so it wasn’t as hard to sit in the restaurant. But as we went further into the cafe, we realized that “A/C Hall” was actually marked as a sign. We were currently sitting in the “Non-A/C Hall.” And if you look at the prices of the menus for each, you’ll notice that every dish is two rupees more expensive in the air-conditioned hall than in the non-air-conditioned hall. I’d never been in any eating establishment that was like this before.
Since it wasn’t too humid, we decided to have the more “authentic” experience of sitting in the non-air-conditioned hall and enjoying our vada in sambar, ras malai, and rose milk. They were all just as delicious as they looked. And we saved six rupees sitting in the non-AC hall!