(Cafe Delight on Hill Road)
I sit myself in a green outdoor patio of a Bandra coffee shop and stare up at the chalkboard menu. All I could read was a rubric of exotic coffees and their carmalized mochaed lattéd frapped iced versions. A few minutes later, a black coffee arrives. As the liquid eats through my mouth acrimoniously, I long for the smell of over pasteurized milk, a slice of ginger, a savory of cardamom dust, the crackle of a rusty stick of cinnamon all concocted and alchemized into something else.
Yes, I'm talking about Chai.
Chai to be slurped greedily in chipped glasses. And so I went looking for the perfect cup in Bandra.
The ceiling fan rattles, clicks and sways as it cools the chai in the chipped porcelain cups that lie below. A boy, a torn banyan walks up to our table and slides two glasses of water across the marble top. Smoke from an entire barrage of cigarettes spirals up to the ceiling as people drink their chai an accompanying glass of cold water, reading newspapers while eating kheema (mince) samosas and buttering their bun muskas. The Cafe permeates much Bombay talk, a bright hum insulated by its vaulted ceilings from the noise of the street outside.
These are the musty, yet strangely comfortable confines of one of the many Irani establishments in Bombay.
The boy slides across briskly to my table and looks at me with accusatory smile.
"Ek Kali chai doosri doodh walli", I tell him thinking about chai.
[t: One Black the second one with milk.]
"Ek Kali, Ek Gori", he repeats as his yellow smile widens.
[t: One Black, One White]
I laugh to myself as he walks away to the kitchen.
The chai arrives shortly only to prove to me yet again that the best cup of chai is served by a yellow smile with missing teeth belonging to a heat drenched body appearing from nowhere only to serve only more amounts of chai.