Hey foodie, welcome back to one more episode from food stories section on yumandawesome.com. We generally are so focused on the term food, that at times the place which serves food or makes the experience worth is sidelined. There are so many food stories that revolve around places which serve food. Especially the stories of people from yester years involve places, in modern times pubs replaced these places. No wonder that most of the stories don’t last longer. Pubs and discos are trends which will get replaced. Only classics will remain and stay.
So today here is a story of two people who are willing to take things forward, but only time will decide if their story shapes towards a happy ending. There is certainly something special about love stories. That even the most unromantic person wants to know more about them. I don’t know how good I am with writing stories with romantic angles, but I am sure you will let me know at the end of this post in the comments section. So let’s get started.
The quaint café story…
Gautam texted Paula asking “Hey, how are you doing…Did you like the birthday present.” Now waiting impatiently for a reply, he opened his Instagram and searched for Kritika Kirmani. There was one hit and he clicked on the profile to check Kritika’s picture, this wasn’t the first time he was doing so. Since two days after they met at Paula’s home on her Birthday, Gautam was thinking about Kritika all the time.
Gautam was 27 and Paula was his friend from MBA College who recently turned 25. At Paula’s birthday all her friends from college and current job gathered for a small party. This is where the sparks flew between Gautam and Kritika. Gautam was trying to remember how he saw Kritika while she entered the lift in Paula’s building. He smiled shyly and was expecting a smile but that didn’t happen. Then he got that long due smile after Paula introduced them.
While he was in his own sweet thoughts, Paula replied “Hiii…I liked the gift.” Now Gautam was thinking about what to say next as he actually wanted to ask about Kritika, but he feared to be judged if he asked directly. So he responded “Glad you liked it…” Since Paula knew Gautam from past 6 years she responded “You want Kritika’s number? Isn’t it…” followed by two laughing emojis. Gautam was clean bowled after reading this and was smiling at himself.
He texted back “How every time you decode my texts…? Anyway yes I know she is single and would like to know her as a friend.” Paula replied “The way you were sheepishly following her and staring at her in awe on my birthday, it is well evident that you were smitten.” She followed the statement with a winking emoji. Gautam was blushing and embarrassed at the same time. “So is there a chance?” He dared to ask. Paula gave him the number after asking Kritika’s permission.
“All the best, this mission is not going to be easy.” Paula texted this warning note. Gautam was happy and ignored the warning in brutal overconfidence and replied “Thank you girl… You are the best…” Followed by so many smiling emojis. Now came the toughest part and that was to send a text to Kritika. He was recollecting the events from the evening of the party, just to pick a cue and text in some direction. He remember she telling a friend about how she is not having a strong palate for spices and the Biryani was too spicy.
He begun typing “Hey, Gautam here…I hope you are over the Biryani trouble by now…” He read it in his mind, and found it very absurd…He deleted the words and was thinking hard to come up with something better. His brain searched another memory which was, Kritika telling Paula that the cocktails were amazing and she liked the martinis absolutely. So here was a chance for Gautam to open the conversation. He typed “Hey Kritika, Gautam here…got your number from Paula, just wanted to tell you that the Margaritas were also great that day…” He sent the message.
Now it was too late to do anything. He saw the read receipt and was anxiously waiting now. Kritika checked the message and smiled. She was a hard nut to crack, she responded “Ohh, is it! I am not a fan of margaritas.” Gautam read it and saw that only one exclamation mark and one full stop, which meant she was not leaving room for any conversations. Which was like too much analysis from his end. Gathering all the courage he sent another text, “Ohh I will remember this, even I don’t like them, it is just that they were so good and a friend told me to try…”
To this Kritika replied “So you often give into the peer pressure?” she smiled mischievously after sending the reply. Gautam felt embarrassed and waited for some time to respond. After 10 long minutes Kritika added “I am kidding, was just checking how your perseverance is.” After reading this, Gautam felt relaxed. The conversation took off and the ice was broken. Few days passed like this. Now came the time when Gautam thought of asking Kritika out.
He asked Kritika for a coffee, to which she replied “Only if you find a place which I would love to go to…” This was a new challenge in his path. Her Instagram bio read “A modern girl with a soft corner for quaint things…” He thought quaint cafes for the first date, would be a great start to begin with. He searched on web “Quaint cafes in Mumbai…” There were many results but none specifically mentioned quaint cafes in the title. So he clicked on random 3 results.
First was ‘Romantic Cafés in Mumbai’ it had a list of 10 cafes from which he picked the Lake View café and asked Kritika “Since you like quaint places, how about Lake View café at Powai?” She said “If you are searching for a quaint café for me, then this is not at all quaint. It is too modern.” He knew that it is not going to be easy. He went back to the list and picked the Artisan café which was at Bandra. He texted her again asking if Artisan will do. She replied “Gautam, do you really know what quaint means?” she added lots of laughing emojis to mock him.
Gautam was smiling at her replies. He was into the game seriously and wanted to leave no stone unturned. After all, it was after ages that he met someone so lively and graceful that he actually wanted to take things forward. He took one more from the list and landed it in Kritika’s inbox, it was Grandmama’s Café. Her response was “Only expensive furniture to make it look quaint, it adds to the ambience but does nothing to the quaint quotient.”
Gautam closed the first result and went to the list from next result. He suggested the Kala Ghoda café after checking the pictures from the web. Kritika seemed too picky about her choices, she said “yes it seems old though, but it is not natural in feel.” Now Gautam was a bit restless and he wanted to win this challenge anyhow. So he scanned the entire list and saw Café Mondegar and Leopold Café in the list and thinking about their charm he sent it to her. Her response was “Now you are talking Mr. G, but these are too crowded all the time.”
Gautam was glad that now he knew what kind of places will work, though she rejected the previous two. He asked his guys friends to suggest some old cafes, as using the term quaint cafes would have not worked here. Came many suggestions in the chat group, some he already pitched to Kritika and some were simply dumb options. Finally someone put a link on the group which read ‘12 Historic Irani Cafes that will Captivate your Heart!!!’ He clicked it and unlocked the Pandora’s Box. He loved the blog so much, that he forwarded it to Kritika and asked her to choose one.
She took a while to read it, by the time she finished reading it was dinner time. “These are the places that I love, and this list made me hungrier than I usually am at this time.” Gautam was happy after reading this. He texted back “So which one is it? Which seems like the quaintest from the list of these quaint cafes?” Kritika told him “The list is in itself an ode to the quaint cafes and it is difficult to choose one.” Before Gautam could respond, he saw Kritika was typing…
“See I have been to these places before and each time I visit them, I just grow more in love with them. The Chicken Pattice of Kyani & Co. is worth dying for. Plus the place is really quaint, the oldest standing Irani Café of Mumbai, I hope you knew this. The Bread Pudding from Sassanian is mind blowing and it has made me break my dieting vows so many times. Similar is the case with B. Merwan’s Mawa cake which makes me go weak in the knees. The lacy cutlets from café excelsior, they just melt in mouth.” Kritika sent this long text which seemed like an essay to Gautam…
Gautam begun typing, but he was bombarded with another essay, Kritika texted “The Berry Pulao from Britannia & Co. is ultimate rice dish. Sali Boti from Café Military is the best you can have. Café colony’s mutton keema is outstanding and ginger biscuits from Yazdani, Ohhh My Goddd!!! Just quickest way to my heart. Ideal Corner’s Mutton Dhansak is delicious. Have never been to Café Irani Chaii though…How many of these have you been too?”
Finally Gautam got a chance to respond. “You didn’t mention Byculla Restaurant & Bakery, Regal Restaurant & Bakery and Koolar & Co.? Did you missed reading them?” Kritika replied “The ones at Byculla, I have never been to, Koolar & Co. was near my college so I have been there with my group a thousand times at least.” Gautam dared to ask, “So madam, would you like to visit it for one more time with me?” Kritika smiled while replying “Ummm!!! Yes maybe…Only if you plan to be there from breakfast till lunch.”
Gautam was surprised to know that his date was going to be an early morning one. Yet he was happy that finally it was a date. So it was decided that they will meet on a Saturday and spend the day together till lunch. But on the day of the date, Gautam got some emergency work. He literally requested Kritika to not cancel the date but to meet at lunch. Kritika found it disappointing that Gautam was unable to stick to the plan. But she thankfully didn’t cancel the date.
They met at the Koolar & Co., Gautam got some chocolates to make up for the delay, added a handwritten card to it and gave it to Kritika. It read ‘Quaint collection of chocolates for the girl who loves quaint things. Please accept the apology.’ That melted her heart and she smiled finally. Now they were comfortable in each other’s company. They gobbled the keema pav and ate the caramel custard. Since it was late in the afternoon the place was quite uncrowded and was perfect for a first date. Till the time their talks finished it was 4:40 p.m.
Time for some Irani Chai and Bun Maska, they simply devoured the heavenly combination. Now Gautam asked her if she would mind coming with her to south Mumbai for a quite stroll. Kritika was so happy with the experience so far, that she agreed. They took a cab and reached in the fort area where most of the Irani cafes were located. Took a long walk around the marine drive and just when Kritika had to leave, Gautam called his friend and asked for the parcel that he instructed him to get.
Gautam’s friend came near Churchgate station and handed over the parcel to Gautam, greeted Kritika quickly and left. Gautam handed over the parcel to Kritika which had another note in it. “Chicken Pattice of Kyani & Co. just so that you don’t have to die, lacy cutlets from café excelsior to satiate your craving for melt in mouth feeling. A plate of Berry Pulao parcel, with B. Merwan’s Mawa cakes to make you go weak in knees and some ginger biscuits from Yazdani so that you will remember me for at least few more day…Accept with a big smile…”
Kritika was shocked to receive such a surprise. Gautam saw that she was speechless and smiling in awe. He added “So madam, I went to B. Merwan early in the morning and then to Yazdani to get these for you. So postponed our meeting time. The traffic was worse and so had to meet you for a late lunch. I hope now I am really forgiven.” Kritika though touched by the gesture, didn’t want to show it right away.
“What about the other dishes that I mentioned to you?” She asked. “I left them on purpose, just trying my luck to get a nod for second date in one of these quaint cafes.” Kritika couldn’t control her happiness now. She smiled and gave him a hug and said “Not bad and I am impressed. So what are you doing on next Sunday?” Gautam looked in the heavens, thanking all the Gods. The date ended with giving them both some butterflies.
I hope you liked the story. I don’t know how it panned out. Just let me know if this love story in search of quaint café was worth it. If you are shy about commenting down below then you can always write to me on [email protected] or DM me at foodie_khiladi007.
For the curious reader in you, I would like to mention that this story is a work of fiction and is not inspired by any other work. It is my imagination in total and any resemblance to reality is purely coincidence. All characters are fictional and are not from any literature.
Of all the quaint café, which have witnessed many of such love stories since decades, which one have you been too? Would you love to go on date in one of these places? Let me know in the comments. With this your foodie_khiladi signs off for the day, in a hope to see you soon in my next blog post. Till then keep smiling and spreading the smile.