Fiona Fernandez: Dhansak memories
The shuttering of Paradise, another city icon is a sad reminder of the no-warranty tag that its nostalgic landmarks are up against. Even our beloved chroniclers are worried
"Say Pheroze, you're looking rather spiffy in the new suit, and where ever did you get that monocle? Of course, you're still late for our walk. I was beginning to get quite uncomfortable waiting for you to arrive near our usual spot near Lawrence & Mayo. You know what happens to me each time I see the mess that the Metro III has caused on DN Road. Poor ole Dadabhoy – he would've been so upset if he knew that the road named after him was going to be at the heart of this circus!"
Catching up with Lady Flora was always like an information overload for Sir PM. Yet, today, he wasn't particularly in the mood for friendly banter or witty retorts. Dr Viegas, his Sunday morning khabari, had informed him that his beloved Paradise restaurant had shut down. It was the worst news he had heard since the time when he learnt that a traffic island was to be built near his pedestal that faced the Victoria Terminus. It was heartbreaking; even his natty appearance couldn't hide his glum face. 'That Dr Viegas, harbinger of only bad news,' he muttered under his breath after it was broken to him.
"Why so sad, Pheroze?" Lady Flora asked. "One of my city favourite eateries has shut shop. In fact, I was all dressed up to head there for a meal today…chat with the Kadkhodais…tuck into their home-style dhansak – oh, it was so close to the way mother would prepare it," he sniffed. Lady Flora spotted a tear or two roll over his cheeks.
"Tell me more, Pheroze," she egged him on, noticing that he was in the mood to emote, reminisce.
"Well, you see, Lady, it was one of these feel-good restaurants where you felt as if you were stepping into your own home for a meal that had comfort food written all over. The chicken mayo roll, the scotch broth, and of course, the dhansak. It brought back so many memories from our own kitchen. Sigh, I wish I had taken you there. You would've instantly taken a liking to Jimmy and Mehroo – they were the best. She would chat up with patrons, adding her warmth to the space while Jimmy would manage affairs between the counter and the kitchen. It was spotless and simple; I never felt like leaving in a rush," he recalled. Lady Flora was all ears. She hadn't tread beyond Café Leopold (on one of their walks), and felt awful that this nostalgic footnote had missed her radar.
"You know, what this means? One less Parsi-Irani eatery in the city. I remember in my days of practice, we'd have dozens of such cafés and eateries all across Fort and beyond. It was such a delight to sip on steaming-hot chai and bun-maska after a long day of debates and cases at the Bombay High Court. It's a hunt these days to spot on of them, unless you tread all the way to Military or further south, to Sassanian or Kyani. This is not a good sign, Lady Flora. I worry that my Bombay is getting phased out…" his voice lowered as he uttered the last sentence.
"Well, Pheroze we must be hopeful, and support the ones that are still around. Now, won't you be a through gentleman and take me for a guided visit to all these delightful haunts that you keep talking about? I can't wait to experience these little slices of Bombay." "Sure, Lady. After you," he offered. The two trailed off towards Dhobi Talao; Sir PM hoping in his heart that the little café around the corner building hadn't met with the same fate as Paradise.
mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones... wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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