Life has been strange in numerous ways, for want of a better expression, over the last two years. With bouts of hope and depression giving way to a sustained new burst of energy, that all too familiar is coming back as the new experience of a happier times.
It has been over two long years since eating out has been taboo. It’s both looking back and looking ahead, with hope and expectancy for better times wishing they are here already, and to stay as the new norm, or back to the old norm! An evening at the Bukhara at ITC Maurya in New Delhi was like a wish coming true. And, in so many ways it was a moment in time, etched in the new memory bank for some time to come.
That customary wait for a table, more than dozen different heads poring into the reservation register, that usual crowd in the front lounge with drinks in their hands, waiting to be called in. As we took our table, we were back to witnessing that brisk canter of the waiters rushing to serve food – it is an unusual high-end restaurant where food deliveries are happening on quick pace, often beating the zeal at a successful fast food outlet, where the rush is itself the recipe for ensuring it’s the best food in time.
It’s the same menu, like it has never changed. Except that the wooden platter has gone, thanks to the covid restrictions, and you download the menu on your phone. That is, for those not familiar with its signature dishes. For us, it was the same burra kabab, Bukhara dal, malai tikka and the signature naan, all of its three feet length, covering half our table. The food, was it the nostalgia I cannot say, was the best I ever had, outdoing every past experience.
A quick check on what’s the drink for the evening. And, for those not saying yes to any alcoholic beverage, a complimentary mint refreshment in place before you could ask for one. Those familiar copper glasses for water, fresh with buffing, we gather every week they go for a fresh coating. The all too familiar apron, tied across every customer across tables, brought back to mind the Clinton saga and their association with Bukhara. Wonder what will be the addition on a Biden visit; with our ties with the US touching a new high, can a visit be expected in the near future?
It is the energy you feel at this iconic restaurant that was so touching, so reassuring that life was indeed coming back. It’s the assured steps, the all too familiar. It was our one single experience, complete in itself, that said that possibly happy days are beginning, if not ‘here again’.
Not to mention that as an old timer, who has kept patronising the outlet over decades, to be recognized and given that extra attention. At Bukhara, as at ITC Hotels, they revel in recognizing their old guests, giving that extra bow, that extra enquiry on what can be served and better!