It was a white, wintry day. Mr Sharma and his wife stood outside Roshan Di Kulfi – the old, Karol Bagh restaurant – waiting for a table. They looked enviously at a group of college children, busy eating with plates in their hands. There was a time when Mr Sharma too could eat while standing. He would come along to the restaurant with his wife, then girlfriend, and order two plates of papdi chaat. It had come as a pleasant surprise the first time they visited, the fact that the place also served food other than kulfi. Now, however, his hands shook too much. Worse still in Delhi’s biting winter.
Karol Bagh hustled and bustled as always, with shops selling everything from designer sarees and sherwanis, to dry fruits, bags and pickles. Winter had clearly not dampened trade. In recent years, more contemporary eating joints had sprung up in the market. Nonetheless, thought Mrs Sharma, nothing could match Roshan Di Kulfi’s golgappe, dahi bhalla and of course, kulfi falooda.
Sometimes, Delhi’s chill seemed tailor-made for eating. Wasn’t it bliss to gorge on gajar ka halwa, jalebi and hot coffee when the winds raged outside? Roshan Di Kulfi had on display a vast selection of sweets right in the storefront. It made the Karol Bagh air fragrant, festive and too tempting to resist. If anything held back Mr Sharma from sampling a plateful of everything, it was his old age. It was a pity, he thought, that he had to go and get old. He would love a plateful of steaming chana bhatura. Why couldn’t time reverse itself, if only for a while?
Even at 4 in the evening, odd hours for heavy eating, the place was jam-packed. Mrs Sharma settled on the chair and looked around first at the crowd, then at her husband. They had been married thirty-five years, the first ten of which her husband had spent introducing her to new cuisines. She often regretted how she now had to be watchful of his diet, and stop him from eating much of his favourite food.
“What shall I get you, Ma’am?” the waiter enquired.
“How about two plates of chana bhatura?” Mrs Sharma smiled at her husband, who in turn was delighted enough to give her a wide, toothy grin.
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For all the badmouthing that Delhi receives, there lies herein undying charm. Every Wednesday, find on Saddi Delhi a fresh story from life in the capital. Right from delicious food in Delhi’s alleyways to dreamy winters that paint the skies white.
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