Friday, October 27, 2006

Hare Krishna Dinner

I'm having dinner at this Hare Krishna restaurant, and a small drama has played out before me.

I usually don't put money into cults like the H.K., but the food is really good and they don't proselytise. I've come here for almost 20 years now, and I've seen the head waiter grow middle-aged, his forelock abandoned for a televangelist haircut that makes him look like a presidential candidate.

As I was eating, three people came in, arguing in hushed tones. An attractive 45ish lady, slightly worn, wanted to have dinner here. But she was having trouble with her male companion, a tall, very worn 50ish guy. The place made him nervous, he whispered plaintively, and he kept trying to flee out the door into the street. This made the woman angry. Another woman, 40ish, short, stocky and slightly hunched with inward-pointing toes and a red braid, tried to placate the two.

Us other diners all clearly felt embarrassed by the display, shrinking into our chairs, some whispering among themselves. I don't know why these three people gave off such an outsider vibe. I fancied they came here from a drugs rehab session or a mental daycare institution. But of course I don't know anything about their lives.

Finally the hungry lady gave up her attempts to eat here and went to get a doggy bag. Her beau immediately took the chance to zip out the door. As the presidential candidate transferred the woman's veggie food to a box, she ran out after the guy, calling his name, telling him off in a hushed angry voice. When they were gone, everyone breathed a sigh of the relief that comes of restored normality. And the chanting and finger cymbals on the loudspeakers droned on.


Blogger mugabe said...

When they were gone, everyone breathed a sigh of the relief that comes of restored normality. And the chanting and finger cymbals on the loudspeakers droned on.

Beautiful. Hat off.

27 October, 2006 22:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we have a lovely hk place here in los angeles. you can check it out when you make your sojourn for the next mushroom hunt.

28 October, 2006 02:04  
Blogger Karen said...

what kind of food do hk's eat?

28 October, 2006 02:11  
Anonymous Victor said...

what kind of food does HK eat really? That's a good question, I'm a chef, and when I hear about Hare Krishna food, I imagine lentil curry with steamed lotus root and shiitake mushroom, served with tea some oddball veggie asian stuff full with strange herbs and seaweed.

28 October, 2006 03:23  
Blogger Martin said...

The food at the Stockholm H.K. place is vegetarian with a lot of dairy, all liberally seasoned with indian spices, served with poppadums and chutney and lassi. No mushrooms or seaweed. As far as I can tell, the only tropical component is the various spices.

Cheap stuff to make: the profit margin must be healthy indeed. I keep coming back because the food is good and plentiful, quite unique in Stockholm, and the place has a convenient location.

28 October, 2006 08:10  
Blogger Karen said...

Mmmmm, Indian food. I LOVE pappadams and mango chutney. And I make a mean butter chicken (but with chick peas). Great, now I want a curry.

28 October, 2006 13:59  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Now I'm hungry too! There is a huge reformed Christian church in Toronto owned by HK's for probably...30ish years. They remodeled the main church hall intoa temple and it's really beautiful. IN the back they have been serving food for decades. Used to be street kids would go for food, like 2 bucks for huge platefull of vegetarian indian food. Now they have a fairly mainstrem restaurant, compared to serving out of large pots and hot plates. Their service to the homeless and doomed was legendary inexpensive meals. NOw the food and restaurant meet food inspection standards and the cost is still relatively low. I eat there about once a year.

What a pecualiar group of people you all witnessed Martin. Odd. They must have been fighting over where to eat?

29 October, 2006 12:30  
Blogger Morelli said...

great post, martin, but tell me something- That waiter is an exception. I never see really old hare krishnas? where do they go?
The ones I see are in always quite young- Do they emigrate or something?

03 November, 2006 09:48  
Blogger Martin said...

Good question. I actually never see any HKs at all these days except at that restaurant. In the 80s they used to sit around in gangs in central Stockholm, chanting and clicking their cymbals. Maybe they're approaching extinction?

03 November, 2006 09:53  
Anonymous victor said...

In Copenhagen, the Hare Krishna community seems to be alive and well. They love to walk up and down the main streets of the inner city(usualy looking like dressed up bums and not real hare krishnas) chanting their "Hare hare hare krishna"-chant, banging on drums without any real rythm, it's hella annoying if you ever meet them there, when you're going shopping nearby, because they'll usualy be in the same place going up and down the street.

I'll guess they're still there because of the popularity of the alternative "scene" in Copenhagen, with Christiania and all.

05 November, 2006 14:26  
Blogger Martin said...

Makes you wonder how "alternative" it really is to be member of a 40-year old well-organised cult.

05 November, 2006 18:45  
Anonymous anna n said...

Hare krishnas do not eat onions neither garlic. They think that onions would be too exciting.

05 November, 2006 22:27  
Blogger Martin said...

I agree! A nice set of onions (Sw. lökar) is always exciting.

05 November, 2006 22:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Article. I am also moving to Stockholm and since i am a veg so it will be a nice place to have food

Hare Krishna's are known for high quality Karma free healthy vegetarian meals and they dont eat onion , garlic, mushroom , tea , coffee etc as they consider it to be not good for consciousness

17 July, 2007 23:31  
Anonymous Shanti said...

Namaste! hari om!

Hare Krishna-people drink coffe and tea but without caffein. Govindas at Fridhemsplan serves herbal coffe.
Another place I can recomend is the Hindu mandir .
They serve maha prasadam on Sundays.

The hare krishna are actually chanting in the streets!

07 August, 2007 12:20  

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