Friday, June 02, 2006


Went with friends to an "eat out" place that I used to frequent often during my college days. Situated at the corner of the Park Street- Wellesley (currently Rafi Ahmed Kidwai) road crossing, Dreams used to be the usual haunt for most of my friends as well as anyone in Xaviers wanting to have a bite. It was this small little shack with really dark interiors. The place served vegetarian dishes downstairs and everything else on the first floor. To get to the level of non-veg dishes you needed to get up this really narrow and creaking wooden stairs which could barely support our bodyweights.
After going through the proper dining place which were no more than two small rooms with as many chairs and tables possible thrown in and climbing yet another flight of equally dangerous stairs you reached the"place". The "place" was basically a terrace that had been converted to an extension by covering the sides with cheap cloth and canework supported by bamboo poles at the four corners. The place was supposedly kept cool by a standing fan that was much less effective than its constant and loud whirring would suggest. Here was where we gathered mostly after 1:30 in the afternoons, after the canteen had shut down and we had still infinite amount of time to kill and an equal number of boring lectures to ditch. The food was alright, though nothing really great and the view into the street or the houses opposite were nether really sights to kill for. We usually sat down with a roll or some veg hakka, and did the very important job of killing time. Our usual waiter was a dark, mustachioed, pot-bellied man in a greasy sleeveless vest with sweat dripping all over him and usually into our food as well for that extra "Dreams" flavour. The other services besides the food being brought from the kitchen was left to us. We knew that the tissues were kept on the left most drawer of the wooden cupboard and we poured our water into glasses that were transparent once, now translucent and very much towards becoming opaque.
It might not have been the ideal restaurant on a place so close to Park Street, but it was surely the place we preffered.
However, in the middle of our third year in college suddenly the "management" of Dreams had a brainstorm and thought of renovating the place. I guess it was partly prompted by the sudden coming up of a restaurant too close to itself for comfort. The said restaurant was much smaller but it was an "ac" restaurant and poor Dreams could not bear upon the thought of losing its clients to this new kid on the block.
We then left college and drifted apart, touching down base only very rarely and even rarer was a trip to "Dreams". Even those few times that we went to "Dreams" the efforts for a changeover was truly and sincerely on its way. However, on the surface there was no visible change as such. The same old people serving the same old food in the same old way in the same old place. And we didn't ask for more.
We came back this time to be shocked. The ugly duckling had become a beautiful swan (I know it sounds cliched). Well not really. At least it had tried.
It was no more the dark and muggy place that we frequented. It was now in its new avatar of a swanky downtown restaurant with glass top tables and table-mats (ahem). However the people were the same, however they now had uniforms. The vests had been traded for formal whites or greys and they wore those little bows that were customary for the waiter look. The chairs were much more reliable and even the heavier amongst us need not be scared of causing loss of the restaurant property by trying to sit comfortably, unlike those prehistoric days. Someone actually came with a pad to write down our order. Hell it was the same guy, he just had to play along with the rest of them. I am pretty sure he just scribbled some gibberish on those pads, and just like those days long long ago just kept them in his head. The food was brought in much later (well the fancier the restaurant the longer the wait) than usual Dreams time and it was brought in with some style. The breads were brought in wooden baskets, the sabzi in those really aesthetically pleasing , with really small capacity though, copper plated bowls and what nots. They were willing to serve it as well. The cost had gone up a bit, honestly not much though and we would have been surprised if it had not. The "place" had changed as well, though it was not ac, it had gone through with all the other changes that the restaurant deemed required. We really would not dare to open the left most drawer of the wooden cupboard even if the tissues were still kept there.
It was no more "Dreams". It was now Dreamlands A.C. Multicuisine Restaurant.
The transformation was complete.
I am not complaining about it, though I will take that dark, hot and sultry place anyday to the new swanky one. Hey I just hope those new students at college take this new Dreams with its place as the new hangout for those hours to kill and those classes to ditch.

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