It’s been more than half a decade since I set my foot in this small, over crowded, yet feel-at-home-city -Bangalore. I had come here with the intention of going back to my native “soon”. And soon has been running its six year.
Having stayed here for quite sometime, I’ve upgraded from Kannada gothilla to Kannada swalpa baruthe. My eyes have gotten used to people walking about with their company tags and laptop bags. While malls and tech parks at every prime location become landmarks for main roads, the hawkers and college students is a commonplace of the streets. Nightlife gets a new life by Friday evening and slowly dies on Sunday nights. You might have heard for the millionth time, but I say it again because it is true, “It used to much colder in Bangalore “. But all the same, its still pleasant most of the year. Though this city has had a face change over the years with traffic and pollution shooting up the scale, and infrastructure not matching up, I still have a soft corner towards this city who embraces nearly everyone who comes to her.
And here I’m, ready to give this city a fresh coat of paint. This is the beginning of a new series called UCB(Up close with Bangalore). The intent is to visit the common and the uncommon places in Bangalore with a fresh pair of unassuming and humble pair of eyes.
For starters I visited Koshy’s last Sunday. Koshy’s is one of the legendary breakfast places one would find in every should-not-miss-in-Bangalore lists. Opened as a bakery which served Army loaf, it grew to be one of the iconic landmarks proudly boasting visitors like Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Queen Elizabeth. Although I’ve heard people rave about it for the longest period of time I hadn’t got a chance to visit the place yet. Websites mentioned that the restaurant opens at 9.30am, so we decide to reach comfortably by 10.00am. Placed at choicest location, St Marks road, spotting wasn’t a hassle. But what surprised me was that it was chalk full 30 minutes into opening. ‘Really popular’, I thought. Though there were already four or five families waiting, we decided to wait. After all this was the sole purpose of getting up relatively early on a Sunday morning!
As minutes passed by more people came and most of them chose to wait, just like us. Majority of them were in their sweatpants and it was obvious they had just finished their morning jogs at Cubbon Park. The crowd was mostly family with an exception of two or three group of friends. We sat at the doorway, which had the Parade cafe on one side and Jewel box bar and restaurant on the other. As soon as a table for two was cleared we were called into the cafe. It was one huge room with a very high ceiling and a large spread of tables. Unlike hushed voices and soft music of modern day restaurants, chitter chatter, clanking of plates and bustling waiters greeted us. It took at least 10mins for a waiter to spot us and take our orders. As we were waiting, I looked around this room which looked like it got left behind when the world moved on to the future. Vintage decor, cloak room and glass cash counter reminds one the Indian railway station. The walls are lined with monochrome photographs of old Bangalore and sepia prints of the founder and his successors. The waiters, in white and white, looked like they are a fused to the building for a long time now.
Koshy’s was found by Mr P.O Koshy some time in 1940. The once bakery evolved into a department store and finally to the Koshy’s of today. It was in this restaurant that Bangalore’s most lauded intellectual and creative minds gathered and discussed. Those cocoa tables, withered by time, would have been an observer to court cases that were debated over a pot of tea by barristers who used frequent the restaurant. I looked around the room wondered which among those people are sitting around that table which Mr Nehru chose to sit by.
Our appam/mutton stew, ham sandwich and sausage arrived after considerable amount of time. To be honest, I did not find it as excellent as the reviews said. Appam and mutton stew being one of our staple dishes, I should say I have had better tasting ones. Ham sandwich had a slice of ham and sufficient dab of mayo but some how tasted slightly bland. The sausage we assumed would come in a pair or three. But it turned out to be one sausage priced at 80Rs. Ouch.
In general we weren’t impressed by the food, but surely at this place which has managed to survive 70 odd years, when restaurants these days are known to close down in the third or sixth month. It is like those restaurants that you used to frequent as a child or a youth. And continue to do so because you are handcuffed to the tainted memories which were created there. Just as the waiters, many of its customers, who are spending yet another Sunday are here to relish the moments once created at the tables in Koshy’s.