Dinner time and we didn’t know where to go. We wanted a simple dinner, nothing too fancy, but good nonetheless. Driving through the city, I called up a friend for pointers on decent places to go to, considering our pocket and taste. He listed some good options and the name just jumped up at me from an old memory, as if it were crouching behind a corner, waiting for me to arrive. Boo!

I asked my friend if he knew where “Idlicious” is.

It was 2006 and I was new in the city and had just started working. Being the first time I ever stepped out of my cocoon, my parents’ home, it was difficult. Food is usually the first thing to affect one when away and in India its more pronounced, for the sheer diversity of palate.
This little joint became my shelter and a place me and my friends went often for our meals. Not only was it close to where I was putting up but also was simple, homely, unpretentious and wholesome. No wonder I frequented it much like my mom’s kitchen. At the near end of my stay in Pune I came to know that they would be moving base from Aundh to Baner due to  space constraints and reasons of regular business expansion, but did not know where exactly.

I had come back after a big span of 6 years and hadn’t got a clue. The city had spread it’s tentacles and faintly resembled the younger version of itself that I knew; just like how you see someone after a long time and try to find the traces of their older self, I was groping my way through the lanes and roads.

My friend had not heard of it. No surprises there for it was a teeny-tiny joint that had a big following but restricted to only those who lived in the  vicinity. He looked up on Google maps and shared it’s coordinates.

I followed my memory map and the one supplied by my friend and guided my husband to the place. There were funny jitters, I was going to meet an old friend they seem to say. I gave a disclaimer to my husband, “I am not sure if it’s the one. Can’t say if it ‘ll be the same old.”

She sat at the counter, the first thing my vision showed and I knew it will be EXACTLY the same. Although a jauntier version of itself, it still carried her mark.

I shyly told her that I used to frequent her outlet in Aundh and she lighted up.

“I know, I remember you. But it’s been so long, isn’t it?”

I told her that it’s been 6 years since I last visited and I missed this place. We came specially looking for it and were really glad to have found it.

It might have changed its location but what didn’t change were the pocket friendly menu, the flavor of warm homely fresh food, strong aromatic coffee served the traditional way, quick efficient service, simple effortless dining experience and “aunty” in her crisp cotton saris and specs sitting at the counter overlooking everything in her stately manner, effortlessly running the show!
It was such a warm experience to revisit this place, this old friend, aptly named – Idlicious!!!

As we were leaving, we went to the counter to settle the bill and she apologized for the service, which was fine despite it being busy, and said “Today you don’t pay. You came after such a long time. It’s on me.”

I fumbled for words and my husband was pleasantly surprised.

Memories are funny but they don’t lie, and such are associations, they never die.

This is dedicated to all my friends and both, old and new associations!

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© Shivani | forewordMarch