Of the umpteen number of memories I made in Pune during my college days, the ones made at Coffee Stop will remain closest to my heart. A dingy roadside eatery with a fancy name, it made for a great hangout joint. Having spent five years in the same city, I managed to know every ‘chhotu’ (as young waiters are often called in India) working there. And they too managed to know my palate and preferences. The menu card itself had not more than 10 things to offer but the distinct and delicious flavour of spices stays with you for the rest of your life.
It is amazing how food at these begrimed places tastes better than that at any plush restaurant! And the ambiance is vivacious too, because you get to eat under the stars, huddled up on a bike or standing on the foot path balancing the umpteen number of things you are already carrying. The fresh breeze and a plate full of food (yes, their portions are always generous unlike the prosperous restaurants!) makes for a great atmosphere to catch up with friends. Most importantly, nobody judges you while you devour the molten cheese by licking your hand and laugh about the chocolate stuck to your teeth. I must have had a gazillion conversations on the road, waiting for my cheese garlic bread and cold coffee. From making friends to fighting with them, everything has happened on that very road waiting for the same order to arrive.
On days when we were unwilling to have the insipid food from the mess but didn’t have the money to pay expensive restaurant bills, we would run to Coffee Stop, quite late at night to grab a ‘cheese pulav’ and run back to the hostel with the cold coffee in hand (no exaggeration) just to make it into the gates before they closed them off. I can never forget the fun that this stupid adventure offered. In five years it changed its location twice but its faithful customers, such as I, always moved with it, buzzing around the unhygienic premises like bees on jelly.
If you are in Pune and haven’t visited Coffee Stop, be ashamed of this fact but also decide to pay a visit to the pilgrimage of foodies and don’t be scared to dive into the buzzing crowd to place your order, at the top of your voice, lest it should go unheeded…