I slunk away to the Tea Cafe all by myself sometime last week. Somehow I haven’t digested the fact that a much loved, much needed place like that is about to shut down, and my subconscious seems to be inventing multiple excuses to go back and stuff my face with all that I can before I can have no more. This week, I’ll say goodbye to what has slowly become an adda.
Why do good things never last? Why must fancy newness always take over? It was a perfectly minimal kind of place, but that’s exactly what made it awesome. It is now making way for a full service restaurant apparently, if the grapevine is to be believed. And while new places are always exciting, the shutting down of an adda is always heartbreaking. What is strange though is how quickly I have grown attached to the place. Not just for the food, but for the warmth and happy vibe, the cheerful staff and the. And for the fact that it has so quickly wormed its way up to adda-status. In the brief time that the sister was here, I managed to get her hooked too. And she wailed out loud when i told her it was shutting. She pays her respects here. Too bad I didn’t know about it shutting where I wrote about it here.
So last week, on one of the numerous occasions that I invented as legitimate reasons to get a cupcake, suddenly have an undeniable urge for a good shot of coffee, or just turn into a salad-eating health freak, I found myself back there. Post work. By myself and perfectly satisfied. Sometimes the right setting can make for a perfect epiphany.
Sitting there, perched on the corner of my chair and tugging intently at my straw, blissed with the little but awesome joys of sucking blobs of condensed milk out of it, browsing through Luigi Carnacina’s Great Italian Cooking, which is just fabulous by the way, while the rain came down in buckets outside, it hit me like a blinding flash of reality.
I think I’m ready to learn something new.
Yes. Learn. And no, I don’t mean this in a philosophical way. Life teaches me little lessons every now and then, work always throws up something new to mull over, chew and digest, but its been years since I really invested my time and energy in something academic. Not necessarily bookish. But I mean something like picking up a new skill. learning a language, from scratch. Figuring out something alien. Taking it on in its entirety and engaging with it at a deeper level.
Maybe it’s the sudden surge of food in my life and the heightened interest in flavours. These days, I cannot peacefully just eat anything, without trying to break down its flavours in my head and imagining what must have gone into it. I’ve turned into a compulsive armchair flavour-maniac. For every food-related discussion, I have a dozen links to food blogs ready at my disposal. I cannot stop looking at food sites.
Oh, it could also be that this deep, deep urge to get that elusive oven and get my hands in some home made dough has made a serious comeback. I get romantic visions of one day baking my own bread, nurturing the dough till its risen perfectly and sticking it into the oven to have it come out golden. Bread fantasies are an all new high!
And then Anand very kindly showed me this brand new show, about a designer/artiste who went to pattiserie school for a mere three months and turned her life around, just further driving home the fact that sticking by things you love will almost always work out, in the end.
Maybe it was the encyclopaedia-esque feel of Great Italian Cooking, as opposed to the quintessential cookbook with a perfectly manicured food set-up, lush and colourful layouts. Something about its tome like feel just drew me in, and grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and opened my eyes to a new world.
The last time I engaged with anything that deeply was when I studied music, I suppose. I can’t even count college, because I didn’t pay much attention. I did it because it was the way to go, and to date, I don’t think it has had a life-changing influence on who I am. Music, dance, family has shaped me more. And I’m ready to engage with something at that level again. To dive in for the love of it. To quell this intense hunger for something new. To devour it in its totality and command parts, if not all of it.
If the stars must align, they will, I suppose and show me the way. But that evening gave me a lot to chew on. I don’t know what, or how, but I’m ready to learn something new.