Had we been working in other states, we’d probably be eating a cheap McDonald item but we are fortunately in Kalimpong and that is few detachments away from obesity but affording for a generous feast everyday in a good restaurant would definitely make a hole in Journalist’ pockets who are associated with regional newspapers (in this case, even channels.)
That’s why dadabhai hotel exists adjacent to Kalimpong police station. When I first joined Himalayan Mirror as a staff reporter, my urge to enter this very restaurant was literally restrained.
My fellow reporters from other newspapers and news channels decided to have a tea break and while I was introducing myself as a fresher, we reached the aforementioned hotel. It was summer and as I entered the bistro, I found it cozy, dirty and stinky. I resisted speaking, but my mind was loud and clear enough to spit ‘EWWWW.’
The name itself signifies that it’s a Bengali hotel, polices, guards, fruit sellers, tin collectors, and all Bengali stereotypes were randomly enjoying the fish rice there.
All four tables were engaged and my frown eased seeing the packed tables, I almost insisted everyone to go to some other ‘good’ place for tea but before I spoke a word, a fruit seller just sprinkled his hand which was stuck with rice grains and fish gravies, he reluctantly stretched for his glass of water and washed his hand on his recently emptied plate.
I was clearing my throat when I saw that but I had no best-friends to understand my mind there. The fruit seller stood and left. I thought he would wash his hand in hand basin or bucket fixed with tap in a scullery after that, but I was wrong.
The mid-teen guy came with a moist piece of cloth to clean the table; he first took away the plate filled with water which just turned pale yellow by combining in the remaining fish gravies in the plate, he then came back to wipe the table.
He vigorously rubbed the dirt and the sprinkled rice particles were crushed flat on the table charitably leaving feasts for the house flies that would cover the furniture in no seconds.
I involuntarily sat with my field coworkers, careful enough not to touch the desk with my elbow.
‘Dada, please get us six glasses of milk tea’ said one of the senior reporters. There I was almost like, ‘exclude me and make it five’ but again a negative impression could be carved and I just smiled.
The steamy curls of the tea were spiraling up when a dark looking mid-teen, wearing a white or ‘just-turned -off-white’ sleeveless brief, placed it on the table uttering ‘chya ayo’ (your tea has come.)
I took a careless sip, it tasted okay and with prolonged conversations we asked the same mid-teen to repeat the tea order for us.
We started visiting that place every once in a while for they prepared good tea. Now it’s almost two years with the same newspaper and now do I realize that we (Journalists) are being overworked and underpaid and when it comes to meals, one can release themselves to consume just a plate of ‘aluthukpa’ (spicy potatoes with boiled noodles) for lunch.
And about dadabhai inn, we often drop there for tea-break these days, the place may seem unclean but the conversations we have there is just priceless, we (reporters) generate ideas there that may have a possibility to hit the lead or land above the fold in our newspapers. 🙂