Sunday, January 22, 2012

The first of Pune recommendations

It was really cold yesterday. I woke up very early, shivered around for some time, and kept looking out to spot the sun. Many hours later, I went out to the balcony and tried sitting in wide shafts of sunshine that had made their appearance. As pretty as the light was (very chic in a European movie sort of way), it didn't help. The sunlight wasn't warm enough.

I cleaned up some more, arranged some stuff, and then shivering and cold, fell asleep. I woke up around six in the evening. It was grey with no semblance of any sunshine having visited earlier in the day. I felt like taking a short walk so I got dressed and headed out. The little lane that leads on to the main road has some construction work happening. It reminded me of walks I used to take from my place to J's house in Koregaon Park.

There's a lot happening along my road. A small temple opposite the lane was decorated with marigolds and orchids - a very unusual combination. The flowers didn't really 'go' together but the saffron and purple colours definitely piqued the old temple ambience. Diyas were lit but even their flames seemed to be bright, yet mellow. Warmth didn't visit Pune at all yesterday.

A couple of new mattress stores opened yesterday. Several eateries were offering discounts and specials. I walked on straight towards Aundh. It was such a pleasure to walk! It wasn't as cold outside as it was in the house. It was a...how do I explain...it was a soft night. Saturday night, sure, but a soft one. Lots of stars, no moon, a few clouds, and an endless river of careless whispers around the city.

I came to this cafe I had spotted a few days earlier. It's called 'Linger On', opposite the LG showroom on Baner Road. It looked small and toasty from the road. They have a narrow porch where 3 young men sat and discussed some matter very seriously. One furiously stubbed his cigarette while trying to get his very good-looking laptop (aqua blue) to run a program. The other recited something that could have been Gibran but was really a list of sandwiches he wanted to share with his pals.

Inside, the cafe has a mezzanine floor and is stocked with books and board games. I ordered a tofu burger and masala chai and sat outside.

Now, I don't know if it's the cafe or Pune but the experience of al fresco dining is so cheery. This place is on a busy road, yet it feels like you are just watching the world like a movie. So much goes on, so much chatter around, yet you are by yourself doing nothing more than observing someone peel away a bubble gum wrapper and then fold it neatly into a square. It's really wee...and nice.

My burger was really well-done! That was the closest I had seen tofu resemble a non-vegetarian patty. It needed a little salt but everything else was spot on. The top of the burger bun was greased, so it had this nice salty smoothness. And the masala chai was masala chai indeed. You could sniff it from across the road! And there wasn't the 'dip dip' ridiculousness that CCD has. (They just give you a cup of hot water and a single tea bag! That's just cheap, I think.) This was brewed strong and tasty.

I took my time. Watched a few regulars come in - the kinds who look through the menu as a formality, yet order what they have always ordered. I really liked the place.

Hope to go there for a long, lazy brunch soon.

3 comments:

janaki said...

Linger on is very nice. I have eaten there. Good vegetarian rolls and salads. It has a nice ambiance too.

Vinita said...

I'm adding this one to the things I should do when I'm in Pune - the tofu burger sounds amazing. This morning, I chopped some smoked cheese into slivers and sprinkled them on my omelette.

Mukta said...

Janaki - come. we'll go. You can't make it even over a weekend? a quick trip?

Vinita - show off! slivers of smoked cheese and all! :-)) by the way, even Moshe's has a tofu and soya burger. It's very nice too! :-)