An unplanned detour found us at Dakshninapan a couple of days back. The home of Dolly’s Tea Centre. Well, K has been in its spell since we went there a wet afternoon many years back. She heads to it like a homing pigeon whenever she is here. We stopped our taxi and went in for take-away ice teas. This was a short visit to Cal and she didn’t want to miss Dolly’s.
Dolly wasn’t there but her army of Bengali mashimas (aunties) were.
“Will you be open at Shoshthi (the first day of the Pujas and the last day of K’s stay)?”
“Are we open at Shoshthi?” (Mashima No 1)
“Well yes but not for too long, around sevenish. Better to come by five. Food will get over. Unless you want to buy loose teas.” (Mashima No 2)
“We just wanted ice teas”
“They will get over too” (She turned away)
Another lady in jeans, blue shirt and big glasses, a fellow Dolly’s fan asked whether they were shut during the Pujas
“We have worked continuously for 40 days. No break in between. All day. Even our legs are tired. Plus people don’t come here to shop during the Puja. They just want to eat. That’s too tiresome. We can’t handle the rush of customers. We need a break too”. (Mashima No 1)
K and I left with our black currant and orange ice teas in tiny ‘disposable’ glasses. K observed “they make their ice teas with regular squashes from the market, hot tea, ice cubes out of a basic ice tea box…not even a fridge…nothing unique… and yet you will never be able to get the same taste at home”
Today is Shoshti. The first day of the Pujos. Though it seems that Calcutta was celebrating Shoshthi from yesterday itself. Yesterday was Panchami or Day Zero. Never happened when I used to live here and wished that the Pujas were longer. We somehow landed up at Dolly’s again. I must say that I found it really easy to park the car at Dakshninapan.
It was around twelve noon. Dolly remained as elusive as Kanchenjunga in Ray’s movies of the same name. Mashima No 1 was gone as promised (“I have a Puja in my house). Two of the mashi’s were left bravely manning the shop before it closed for the pujos. Mashima No 2 who earlier discouraged us to come today was aggressively pushing loose teas down the throats of customers. Hard sell which seemed so out of place at the Dakshinapan Shopping Complex where noone is interested in selling things to customers.
We got our orange and black currant ice teas. The teas were works of art as always. Magic potions which made you happy, relaxed and made you feel at ease. Reminding you that there is a world beyond the 6 Sigmas and the Corporate Excellences. The world of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘human touch.’ A place to stretch out. A land of sandals and pyjamas with no place for time sheets or treadmills.
It is customary to say “aashchhe bocchor aabar hobe” (once again next year) at the end of the Pujos. So here’s to Dolly’s next time.