Friday, March 27, 2015
“So where do we catch up?”…Ritu was here for a holiday and we were four college friends catching up after ten years. Samovar was the obvious choice. It was where we went when the lectures were boring, where the ambience made us feel all grown up, where the food was always good, where we could eat without worrying about how we would pay the bill, where we could walk to Churchgate and take a train home! My affair with samovar began when I was in school and it was a place my parents took us too whenever we went to town. Tea Centre, wayside inn or samovar…there e was no fourth option! As soon as I got done from school and started doing market research to make money in the summer vacations…I could head to Samovar on my own! Paying my first bill there is still a memory I cherish In college, there was Ritu, Rukshana, binita and me…and this was our space. We came with problems and many hours later left with solutions…always. How to get a guy to notice you, how to now get him to not notice you, how to get your parents to realize they need to get a life, how to make a lot of money without doing something dull…the problems were endless. Yet we managed to find a way out by the time it was closing time at Samovar and we were gently nudged out! So this time, it was ten years later. Those of us in Bombay too had got busy with making a living or making a marriage or trying to juggle both. Getting into town was not something that happened too often, there were multiplexes in the suburbs and the action had shifted there… but that day it had to be samovar. Ritu and I reached first and then the others trooped in. we all complimented each other, the guava juice was perfect and all was well with the world. Mrs. Khanna walked up to us and asked where we had vanished. We told her about our reunion post college and why it had to be Samovar. She smiled indulgently and asked us to continue catching up from where we had left. That felt so lovely… We spoke and spoke. Lied and get caught. Shared secrets, advised each other, held hands when the conversation was difficult and promised to be there for each other always…it was now evening and we had to leave. We asked for the bill and were told it was on the house. We were shocked. We went up to aunty who said she was honoured that Samovar was still a part of our lives. We knew the look that said “do not argue with me” We let the young mommy leave and then rushed to Chetna and picked up a saree that was so Mrs. Khanna. When we got back to Samovar she was busy so we left it on her table and she gave us a warm hug and asked us to hurry along. We proudly told her how we did not take the train but had cars now; she shook her head and smiled. Now there will be no Samovar the next time Ritu is in town…but there will be memories that always take us back to delightful times in our space.