Mahal and Me
As his bid to take over the Mahal tragically fails, SIMON BURDUS looks back on the glory days of our infamous restaurant.
As a Cambridge alumnus who spent 7 years regularly frequenting The Mahal, it is with much regret and sadness that, despite my 11th hour bid to save this hallowed eatery from extinction, my efforts have been in vain.
The Mahal is no more. Having spoken directly with the property’s agents, it looks more than likely that it will permanently cease to be a curry house and certainly cease to be one from which you could leave with the toilet’s hand dryer under your arm on a Sunday night and be welcomed back with open arms on the following Wednesday.
There was nothing like a good curry at The Mahal. Literally, not a good curry in sight. Nor did you go for the service – frankly, it was some of the worst I’ve ever encountered. You had a 50/50 chance of getting the curry you ordered and on one occasion, because my table was too loud, I was violently poked in the neck by the then manager.
But, whether through fate or just bad luck, it had somehow become our place. With fresh sawdust thrown on the floor and a pint of warm, flat lager awaiting your arrival, you knew what you were getting with The Mahal. You turned up with your booze, you paid your money in advance, you got something vaguely resembling what you ordered, you caused a bit of carnage, played a few games and then went on your merry way to Cindies.
Now, students don’t have this option. They will be forced to eat quite nice curries which they actually ordered and will have to behave like adults. Just the idea of it makes me sick. Call it escapism or just being childish but I, for one, will miss the opportunity to go somewhere and be a knob without causing anyone any harm.
I have so many happy memories at The Mahal: the time I electrocuted myself when set the challenge of stealing a light bulb; the time the then president of the Green Monsters (not the Green Giants as the Daily Mail insist on calling us) stood on a chair to make a speech, slipped and fell face first onto the table, before rolling off and emerging with pint still in hand; even the time someone was sick in a girl’s handbag when she went to the toilet.
You might think this was a drinking society venue but it wasn’t. It was a universally accepted place to which any society or group could go and have a good time. There was no need to worry about offending anyone or ruining anyone else’s night. It didn’t matter if you were a subject group, a sports society, a group of actors after a play or just a corridor having a night out, everyone was in the same boat.
I had a dream of taking over The Mahal and making it a safe haven where students could let their hair down – perhaps with some slightly more edible food thrown in. Sadly, it seems that at this moment in time, it’s not to be. I hope another venue can provide the same solace students have taken in The Mahal. The Mahal won’t be missed, but what it stood for most certainly will.