Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cafe Samovar, Kala Ghoda


My first sip of beer was bitter,
Then magically turned to sweet
Conversation flowed like amber liquid
In the verandah you offered as sanctuary
To sundry souls, peaceniks, and poets.
Celebrities would hang around here:
Pearl in an elegant kimono –
Amitabh, Jaya, Amol, Vidya
And almost famous theatre actors.

I don’t know how thirty years flew
It seems like yesterday
That I asked a young lady to tea
And my hands trembled as I poured
I don’t know if she noticed;
We were a shy generation.

There were paper lanterns
Dangling from the ceiling
Kites multi-coloured, ribbed with bamboo
Muted music, reviving,
As if the Jazz musicians recovered from torpor.
Those were the days of rock-n-roll;
Elvis was king, Beatles were in their cocoons
And the city had fewer cars.


At the next table
The child-man’s hand trembles,
As he pours tea;
Clutching the kettle with clumsy stained hands,
His nicotine-addict lips smile,
As the girl giggles, and then laughs;
This is a nonchalant generation.

Except for that
And Pearl is no more, her kimono is in grave,
Things haven’t changed much
At Café Samovar, Kala Ghoda;
There are paper lanterns dangling,
And thoda-thoda[1] famous people around,
Waiting for their next big break.
Nothing has changed while I was away,
Guess nothing ever will.

[1] Little, little.


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