** Why hello there! Welcome to my humble abode. Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Srinivasa "Aditya" Bhattaru, and I shall be your host for this evening/afternoon/morning/whenever you decide to peruse this blog.
And host I shall; every post, I intend to take you outside the problem sets, as it were (title drop). I’m sure you can discover a great deal about the school’s academics, financial aid, mascots, and favorite colors (spoiler: orange, orange, and orange). What this blog is meant to be is a look at things that a student might be interested in around campus and Pasadena, as well as more general topics about life here, that aren’t necessarily related to academics. End of the day, Caltech isn’t just a college, its a home too, for however many years you decide to make it one. Might as well see what it’s like.
I suppose a good first post would be something that’s a solid part of many people’s lives here. It’s perfect timing, too.
Now, far be it from me to make generalizations about what Techers want or think; we’re a quirky and diverse bunch, really.
I think, though, that I’m going to take a risk here and say a fair number of people on campus go through a very similar thought process on weekday afternoons, assuming they’re not in class.
It’s a collective thought that I’m pretty sure resonates throughout campus at around the same time:
"Oh God, yes, open kitchen."
Melodrama aside, it’s hard to deny that open kitchen is one of the really nice perks that come with Caltech’s board program. In between the hours of 7 AM — 11 AM and 3 PM — 7 PM, the South House Kitchen (big cafe that connects the 4 South houses), North House Kitchen (same thing for the 4 North houses), and Avery Kitchen (same thing for Avery House) open up and have free food, all you can eat.
Unlimited food. It’s like regular food, but, like, without a limit.
I just want to drive that point home.
See, before college, many people didn’t have to worry about how much food was around. If you wanted some, the family would get more. Thing is, once you get to college, even if your family was paying for board anyways, there are still limits. Some places have meal swipes, where you’re limited to a set number of swipes a semester. Some places, like Caltech, have a debit card type system where you have a balance that gets refilled every term. Either way, there were some boundaries restricting how much you eat. If you wanted to just grab food whenever you wanted, you’d have to go buy it from a grocery store, too.
Which makes it all the sweeter that for 8 hours every weekday, the cafeteria opens its wooden doors and says "Hey, you there, are you hungry? Its ok, bro, I got you." Bagels, breads, deli meats, cheeses, salad bar, soups, fruits, soda, juices, tea, coffee, cereal, all these and more are available to you. Say there’s something not in open kitchen that you and friends could really go for? Just talk to your house’s food representative and he or she can work on getting it included in open kitchen.
Even the timings work out pretty well. The 7 AM to 11 AM slot means that you’ll have something to eat for breakfast that you don’t have to spend declining balance on, while the 3 PM to 7 PM means you can get a snack after lunch. Open kitchen actually extends into and past dinner time, so while you’re having your dinners with your houses, you can just drop in to open kitchen to get something other than whatever you’re eating that day.
I know to some this seems like it’s not a big deal, but this opportunity is a lot more rare in the real world. Kitchens in real life need to be restocked, usually by you. Even then, there aren’t many kitchens that will have the sheer selection as the ones here. Sure, you are paying for board program, but the board program provides for not only three square meals a day, but this gem of a food source on top of that. In the end, you come to appreciate how awesome it is to have something as cool as open kitchen.
I’m afraid that’s all the time I have for you today. Perhaps next time we’ll take a stroll through other little known aspects of Caltech’s board program. Or, you know, something completely different. We’ll play it by ear. For now, I’m in the mood for a peanut butter-jelly sandwich and some hot cocoa; since the kitchen is open, I should be able to go get both without any trouble.
And I have to say, that’s pretty awesome.
–Srinivasa Aditya Bhattaru