Bondas and Bondings

Mathangi N. M., II Year B.A. English.

Seated in the back seat of the car, it was almost easy to miss the place we were looking for. I guess we were hoping to see a big building that screamed, ‘Commercial Set Up!’, but no, Café Samarth redefined restaurant dining. On Friday and Saturday evenings, tables are set, table cloths laid out and chairs drawn with immaculate care out in the open garden. On the Saturday that I visited, it being my uncle’s birthday, there were the loveliest hibiscuses placed in a white vase right at the center of the table. The white board next to the buffet table read: Birthday wishes to R. Madhavan, Uncle of G. Kaushik.

Now one may say, what’s so great about all that? All restaurants these days go to great trouble to create a leisurely ambience for their customers while they dine. Why is this place unique from all the others? I have two words for you: the staff.

Autism and Down Syndrome are just words that echo in our peripheral minds. While we are aware of their existence, we are content to remain in a state of partial oblivion. At that cozy little place tucked within the heart of Adayar, one is shaken out of this oblivious bubble as they come in contact with individuals with special needs who have been given opportunities to exhibit their culinary skills.

And that brings me to the yum factor: the food. Café Samarth offers a South Indian and a Maharashtrian Menu, prepared and served by their lovely staff. A crunchy sandwich, some poha, stuffed paratha and good old bondas occupied my plate and mind that evening along with some good old family chatter.

The bondas, however, took up more space in my thoughts than I expected. Ibrahim, a staff member who worked at Café Samarth with my cousin, was finished for the day and came to say goodbye to him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he engulfed my cousin in a bear hug and fed him a piece of bonda and ruffled his hair. I assure you, a collective “aww” rippled through the witnessing crowd.

When you eventually tire of air conditioned restaurants and mechanical staff, make your way to Café Samarth and get ready to take away some wonderful memories with you.

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