Skip to main content

Frill-Free Cups of Tea

Very, very close to where I work lies one of Pune's iconic landmarks that one should plan for whilst they're on a visit in the city. This landmark is nothing more than a near-dilapidated old Irani cafe called Vohuman Cafe. It's got quite a small little space filled up with plastic round tables and chairs, a few counters for display here and there and nothing much else. 

The owner (known to be both cheery and nasty at the same time) takes charge from the cash counter which is right at the entrance. Seated, he greets familiar faces, hurls orders to his staff and carries out the cash exchanges. Those who've patronized his cafe, swear by the tea and cheese omelette the kitchen churns out. You can routinely expect a roar of laughter and chatter  from huddles of men revelling in life's simple pleasures - chai and bun-muska post their morning work-out. I can't believe that despite having lived in Pune for several years now, it was only last week when I first visited the cafe even though I walked past it twice every day for 5 months, with chai and omelette-scented air wafting past me. 

Ambiance is not their forte. Neither is service. Don't expect to be heard or given a chair when the cafe is crowded. Also, they stay shut for most of the day, so wake up early one morning and plan a breakfast there. What you will enjoy with your tea, bread and omelette, is the vibe of the place. At Rs. 35 for a bun muska jam (bun slathered with lots of butter and sweet strawberry jam), it does cost a tad bit more than what other hole-in-the-walls would charge for the same.

Go on an early weekend morning and you will be surprised with the crowd that greets you. Yes, it is possible to hear ka-ching from running a cafe like this; a cafe where the only investment daily is purchasing the simplest of ingredients, namely butter, bread, eggs, sugar, salt and cheese. Amazing, yes?


Popular posts from this blog


Last weekend, I got a unique opportunity to visit Gowardhan Cheese Factory in Manchar district, a good two hour drive from Pune city. The owning home-grown company Parag Milk Foods brand portfolio includes Gowardhan and GO boasting of a range of dairy products that have been retailed across Mumbai and Pune over the last decade. I first started using their yoghurt when the local kirana store ran out of my usual preference of Amul, Danone and Britannia. One spoon of it and I instantly found it so fresh, light and 'unprocessed'.
I have always loved cheese but now I even prefer it over chocolate. So when I was scheduled to visit the GO factory, it bore semblance to winning the golden ticket and entering glistening gates to its factory much like the popular Roald Dahl's Charlie. Except that it was not all that dramatic! 

Touring A Once-Troubled Belfast As A Guest Of The Duncans

Belfast is the best place to visit in 2018 - Lonely Planet said it, not me. 

But why? 
Belfast, it was never a city on my must-visit radar, until I met a colleague from there. In the months leading up to my trip, I started researching about the city and learnt that for three decades, Belfast was ground zero of The Troubles, a violent territorial conflict over national identity and belonging. The city was fraught with rioting and bombings and was not considered safe. But it's 2018 and on the surface, people in Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) seem to be going about life as usual. Outside of its political and religious issues, Belfast is a beautiful little city, a rising star on the traveler's bucket list, especially in the summer (quick trivia: Belfast usually sees 157 days of rain).
My Hosts, The Duncans
So there I was landing in Belfast one June morning as a guest of my wonderful colleague (let's call her Ms. Duncan). She is the daughter of a former national le…

Shashi Tharoor's 'An Era of Darkness' Illustrates the Rapacity of the British Raj in India

It was August 15, 2016, I was having lunch with someone. Gazing at the news on the television screen behind me, she asked, "It's India's Independence Day today! Independence from whom?" Independence from the British, I answered, shocked. Shocked, because this someone in question was British and she had not a clue about the crimes of her country's colonial past.  Like millions of Indians and non-Indians, I was left aghast and despondent when I heard the viral Shashi Tharoor Oxford Union debate (if you haven't seen it yet, you've been living under a HUGE rock, and I suggest you watch it before you proceed to read the remainder of this blog). Tharoor in all his articulate and intellectual glory spoke in motion for Britain owing reparations to her former colonies. Tharoor's well-researched facts on the brutality of British rule in India for over two centuries left me astounded, and a sense of shame dawned on me - I knew so little about my country's p…