Second flush in Bombay
By now, they inadvertently ended up reaching the venue that the two were so excited about. It was right there in front of them, now rechristened Queen's Deck
"You're late, Pheroze; were you still working on your speech for the October 2nd function, or am I missing something?" enquired Lady Flora in her usual speed-of-lighting pace. Unlike most occasions, this time, her ever-unprepared friend, Sir PM, wasn't afraid or hesitant to reveal his whereabouts or the reason for his delay. "I have such wonderful news for you, Lady. It's bound to make your heart sing," he teased, barely able to hold back his excitement. It was a half-moon night sky, and the monsoon clouds had made it even darker, yet she could spot his wide-grinned face. "Out with the news, Pheroze. You're not helping," egged on Lady Flora.
"Do you remember where we tasted possibly the most delicious scones in Bombay all those years ago, to celebrate India's silver jubilee of Independence?" he quizzed. Sir PM was in one of those moods. After a long pause, Lady Flora's eyes widened to spill out her reply, "Tea Centre?" Sir PM did a silent, slow clap to announce that she was right, and to ensure that the stray dog that was fast asleep by the pavement they were walking on, wasn't disturbed. "Guess what? They are back! Viegas and I went around the spot to check if the news was true. And thank heavens, it is," Lady Flora could nearly visualise her friend do a virtual jig with the news. "Some actor from the Hindi film industry was at the opening, so we didn't go too close for a better view. But my word, this development has made me so happy amidst all the grim news around us," shared Sir PM; quickly adding, "So, I hope you can come along for a spot of tea sometime soon," he asked his dear friend. It was an offer she couldn't refuse. "That's not even something to ask me, Pheroze. You know what a fan I was of the place." For the next 10 minutes, the two hit rewind mode, and went on to recall the many occasions they had celebrated inside the tea house that had been the toast of the city's cultural and intellectual minds for nearly six decades.
"This comes as the best news after Café Samovar had to shut down. That was such a loss, Pheroze, wasn't it? I mean, I really thought it would make a return. Their ginger tea was outstanding for the sinuses. So, this is a reassuring sign for the city," Lady Flora proclaimed. "After all, chai…I mean, tea and Bombay are inseparable — whether it's the cutting, a second flush or a Sulemani. I wish Bastani would return," Sir PM added, mentioning that his cousin Persis who resided in Bandra shared that her suburb boasted of at least three classic tea houses. "She managed to nearly convince me to set out on a trail one Sunday morning to savour the many brews!" he revealed with a loud chuckle.
By now, they inadvertently ended up reaching the venue that the two were so excited about. It was right there in front of them, now rechristened Queen's Deck. "Let's plan a get-together here sometime soon — us, Viegas and the missus, and Sir Edward — to raise a toast to our heritage. Finding a space to keep his kala ghoda might be an issue though, I suspect," announced Sir PM. "The scones — I cannot wait to indulge in them and at least I don't need to get them shipped from London any more. I am glad these elements of Bombay's culinary heritage and landscape are making a reappearance," she chimed as the two stepped a bit closer to the tall glass window, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of their favourite tea house in its second innings.
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
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