Eating Places

I think for me, the top of the pops are the Irani chai joints, because of memories associated with them, from engineering college days. They were usually non-descript places with names like Hilton, Ramser, Lighthouse; small and just tolerably clean, with a crowd of people of every description. But they all had a warmth which the best of restaurants find difficulty in giving you. The food selection wasn't great- an Osmania biscuit, a bun-omelette, or a mirchi bajji- a delicacy for gourmet eaters fond of fiery stuff. But we spent hours at some of these joints, sometimes discussing dreams of going to the U.S., but mostly the last Bollywood movie or something more down to earth. The waiter-boy's cries of "do chai la" still rings in my ears, after decades.

The coffee cafes probably serve the same function today, but wifi has intruded to make them more tech-oriented, and maybe conversation-less in some cases. They are definitely posher, cleaner, and still limited in eats they offer. I have spent a few hours talking to people at some CCDs (particularly one on Brigade Road, Bangalore- Anupriya, Shafique, Zargar were some of the people I yapped with). Another pleasant place I remember is Coco's in Hyderabad where Nikita and Ritika were with us-it has the feel of a Goa shack (in Jubilee Hills). And in Bangalore again, a Vietnamese place where I met Shweta, Coconut Grove where I met Saumya, or Church Street Social where Shafique, Pallavi and I socialised. In Mumbai, some pleasant conversations happened In Chili's where Divya Singh was involved, and a mall food joint in R Mall where Bhagyalakshmi and I met. Not to forget Sanjeev Kapoor's Yellow Chilli, where Garima Shah was on the other side of the table.

In Belgium, of all places, we had landed in a Lebanese restaurant, and the waiters served us with a lot of warmth when they learnt we were from India-I think this was 1987, when four of us were doing a Eurail trip. One or two ordinary Greek restaurants in Athens were also very nice and warm.

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