Monday, September 10, 2018

Days of inexpensive, wonderful, curries and chappatis

The unforgettable Singh’s Durga Road restaurant

My intrepid friend Francis Noronha (Lethbridge, Canada) who has a gleaming eye for nostalgia, a joke or two and material of historical relevance to Goans in the diaspora, sent me this little gem.

During our college days, my friends and I had developed a reputation for wolfing down prodigious quantities of food. During College vacations when the refectory was not open, we discovered a restaurant that served a delicious chicken curry and all-you-can-eat chapatis for a ridiculously low price. It immediately became the go-to place for us cash-strapped students. I recall that after our third visit, the Sikh proprietor confessed to us tearfully that while he appreciated our custom and was pleased that we so obviously enjoyed his food, he would in future have to restrict us to two chapatis each and charge us the equivalent of a dime for each additional one. We readily agreed that it was still a very reasonable deal and we had no desire to see the good man driven to declare bankruptcy. The Durga Restaurant still occupies a very special place in our hearts! May the proprietor be blessed with heavenly banquets in his afterlife.

One of Francis’ network friends wrote: I remember those great days. Vegetarian curry was 3 shillings. and chicken 4 shs. Durga fed me ever yday for two months and Shanti and Gopal for three, as in the third month I was away hitch hiking around  East Africa for a month with a friend. Our record was 17 chapattis at one sitting and we finished his big bottle of mango pickle. One day the waiter was slow in bringing the chapattis when I shouted " lette chapatti" (bring chappatis). He told me that the chapattis were not ready, so I shouted "piga machini teke"(give the machine kick start).  A huge Singh who was the chapatti maker came out to see who had said that. I was under the table pretending I had dropped something. 

Cyprian Fernandes: Singh’s in Durga Road was familiar to most Goans who lived in Eastleigh, Pangani, M’lango Kubwa, Forest Road, and the other nearby suburbs. Some of the late night card players used to regularly go to Singh’s restaurant in the very early hours of the morning. We used to treat him like a first cousin, a very trusting and generous man. Sadly, I have forgotten his name.

There were also the Supreme Hotel, Sweetheart Mart (in Ngara) and the 

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