I reached the station at 7.30 pm exactly 2 hours before my train…. the price one pays for anticipating traffic jams in Chennai.
I had a choice of spending the time in the beach as suggested by the cabbie or wait for the train. I opted instead to visit the café which I last ate in 1975!
Bhuhari’s Café is right opposite to the central station. It used to be the jaunt of all medical students who used to go from Christian Medical College, Vellore for exams to Chennai for the examinations. The moods used to vary – sometimes pensive, occasionally happy that the theory, viva went well. And we did this year after year from second to the fifth level exams. It was not an exotic place - just what we could afford as medical students.
The favorite dish those days used to be “ Chicken Biriyani- quarter plate” for Rs 3.50 and “Chai” (tea)for Re 0.25. Today ,when the taxi pulled up in front, the usher waved me to a new air conditioned posh area. I ignored him and walked on to the main dining hall.
“Quarter plate of Chicken Biriyani followed by Chai”, I said. The waiter looked at me strangely and said that it was all in set plates now. And no tea nowadays only juices! As I waited a while for the food, I looked around. Mostly middle class customers- almost everyone with chicken biriyani!
My plateful arrived after about 10 minutes and the food was the same. …very homely and good. No wonder the place was popular even now. The bill came to Rs 110 per plate , keeping up with inflation.
As I was leaving, I told the waiter that last time I was here in 1975 as a medical student; the place was still as full. He told me that the hotel was started in 1960 and then I realized that by now, I had spend nearly 75 minutes there …. just with nostalgic memories. I called up my childhood friend Jebsy from Trichy …. He agreed that it is always great to take a step backward in time .
Those were wonderful days!