You have to listen to Purani Jeans by Ali Haider before you proceed to read this article because that song captures in precision and exactitude the essence of the yarn coming ahead.
As I sit here in the bustling cafeteria, the clatter of chairs and chatter of fellow students form a symphony of nostalgia that fills my heart. I can’t help but reflect on the countless memories this place has given me, already.
The moment I walked into this cafeteria as a wide-eyed freshman, I was greeted by the comforting sense of simplicity mingled with the excitement of new experiences. This place wasn’t as fancy or as happening as you’d expect but I now understand that it hides in its humble stature this gripping sense of homeliness that you understand the value of only later. Dada’s cafe has been more than just a place to refuel; it has been a sanctuary where friendships were nourished, hearts broken, laughter echoed, and where, today, I find myself reminiscing.
In the first year, getting permission to sit in the cafe felt like a mission. Seniors tell me that there was a time when due to limited accessibility to technology, the cafe was one of the most happening places in the college. You’d watch sports together, sing and/ or dance. If you were on good terms with Dada, he’d do you small favours too- boil eggs for you or make his famous (now unavailable) Chicken Maggi. Almost every foodie on campus had a Cafe ‘khata’. Pay back day was always dreadful. And on an instance as this senior recalls, Dada had a verbal altercation with the Didi working in the cafe then. Angered, didi gave away free chocolates to everyone who came to the cafe that day.
Even still, the cafeteria is always abuzz with activity—groups of students catching up, animated discussions about classes and professors, the occasional study sessions that turn into passionate debates, the debate practices and the society meetings. Those crowded tables have been and still are the birthplace of friendships that would stand the test of time.
The food here isn’t just a list of options; it is a ‘culinary journey’. I recall the days when ordering food from outside wasn’t allowed after 11 and my roommate and I would find solace in cafe’s burgers for late night study sessions. The burgers are far from a common lad’s understanding of delectable fast food but at that time those dry grubs tasted like food straight out of a Neil Perry Kitchen. Everything sold in the cafe has a specific memory attached to it at this point. The gossip day chai, the missed lunch because of an elim sandwich and the practice session plate of Maggi amongst others.
As a senior now, I’ve come to realise that the cafeteria is more than just a place to eat; it’s a reflection of our journey. Every corner tells a story—the table where we celebrated a win, the corner where we comforted a friend in times of heartbreak, and the table right in front of the air conditioner where we huddled during long hours of group study. Oh and lest we forget the Sardiyo wali special chai that Dada made in his madira induced joy singing ‘Kolkata ki special chai, jo piye top kar jaye’.
It’s not just about the food or the physical space; it’s the people who make it unforgettable. Didi who always greets us with a warm smile, Dada with his gaalis and random breakods of old Bollywood songs, the friends who shared snacks and dreams, and the mentors who dropped pearls of wisdom in casual conversations—these are the pillars of our college journey. The cafe’s been a place where we celebrated milestones—birthdays, achievements, and farewells. It’s been a canvas where we painted our memories, one odd meal at a time.
I have discovered some absolute musical gems of 90s Bollywood because of Didi’s fondness for the same. Wirra, I carry with me the flavours of the past and the hope that the memories created here will stay with me forever, a comforting reminder of the beautiful journey that was my college life.
The cafeteria has been a constant companion, witnessing our growth, our challenges, and our triumphs. It’s seen us transform from timid freshmen into confident seniors, ready to face the world beyond these hallowed halls.
As I glance around, I see faces both familiar and new. The cycle continues, just as it did when I first arrived. New students find their way here, just as I did, forming friendships that will shape their college years. It’s a poignant reminder that life moves forward.
Sitting here, I promise to savour every moment in this cafeteria, to etch the laughter and camaraderie into my heart, and to carry these flavours and memories with me into the world beyond. The college cafeteria will always be more than just a place to eat; it’s a small part of who I am, a chapter in the story of my life, and a source of cherished memories that I will remember long after I’ve turned my tassel and walked across the graduation stage.
This article has been written by Simran Yadav (3rd Year).