As I sit and eat piping hot Lukhmi before hitting the road, I experience what I call a deep sense of nostalgia, a melancholic pang for my city of Hyderabad.
Hyderabad, former Nizam State pre independence.
The land of the nawabs, monuments, great food & tehzeeb (manners)
Today I just see infrastructure, ugly monstrous buildings,looming large metro constructions and no more trees..
As a kid growing up in this laid back city, I remember the innumerable Irani cafes spread around the city. Be that Alpha near Railway station, Blue Sea and Garden in Secunderabad or Skylab in Mettuguda.
Almost every evening, my mother used to send the house help with a flask for that piping hot chai and Irani Samosas and if we wanted to indulge more, the delicious Lukhmi.
Lukhmi is a flour pastry filled with either Minced Meat(Kheema) or Potatoes, deep fried and served hot as a snack or as breakfast.
Accompanying it would be the Irani Chai where you would ask either for Suleimani – strong black tea with lemon or Pauna – a milky creamy tea or just strong tea with a dash of milk in it.
As time passed, with the new money came the death of the Irani Cafes,death of a cuisine, death of a culture and maybe the death of the ‘hyderabadiness’ that used to exist before.
Today, Irani cafes are relegated to old city and some of its counterparts function in obscure areas.
So when I tasted the Lukhmi after ages, by accident,on a crisp cold winter morning at 5 am, I welled up.
Relishing it meant a trip back to my childhood, a trip back to that Hyderabad and Secunderabad that combined the Nizami Culture with Stylish chic Anglo Indian Culture.
That trip to Sangeet – with the latest English movies, Alpha & Garden cafe for the best Biryani, Rio for the best egg puffs, Parsi Bakery for freshly baked bread every day at 4 pm.
And most of all, I miss people greeting each other with smiles, with a Hello or an Aadab…