Day 59. The first time I went to this difficult-to-find place tucked away above a rundown petrol pump and walked into the large room with its simple red sunmica tables, I had no expectations. I had heard legends about it, even read about the place, but nothing could prepare for what I was about to experience. A spoonful of the chimney soup and a bite into the melt-in-the-mouth dumplings later, I knew I had to come back. The steamed fish, roast chilli pork, salt and pepper prawns and house noodles that followed only made that wish stronger. I was in gastronomic heaven. And gone back I have, so many times that I now know their menu by heart. Friends, family, living in the city outside, I have taken anyone who is a foodie by any remote description there. And each time, I have discovered new flavours, savoured the (lack of) spices all over again. And the happy smiles on the faces of those who have accompanied me have only doubled my joy.
Today was one such afternoon. I was meeting a former colleague and friend Dipa Dipanwita Bhattacharyya after a gap of a few years. And when she expressed a wish to eat somewhere new, Eau Chew seemed the perfect choice. Old to the city, new to her.
I was a newbie at work, fresh out of college and lost when her friendly attitude and warm smile had made me feel at home and helped me settle in. She was also my teacher, it is from her that I learnt to make pages. And my guide. Unsure of how to address my new colleagues, most of them much senior, I decided to follow her blindly.
The sari today was a black and white kotki borrowed from my mother-in-law. My sister-in-law Sarmistha had gifted it to her one Puja.
Chinese lunch, Odissi drape and a Tibetan treasure trove. All in a day. Lunch over and with some time in hand before work, I decided to make a quick trip to New Market. This is one place where one can wander around even if one has nothing to buy. And every time I go to New Market, there are two shops I must visit. One I resisted today, walking past the rows of cheese puffs and lemon tarts in the glass window, and ignoring the aroma of freshly baked brownies at Nahoums to make my way towards the other pilgrimage where stones of every colour sit pretty on silver and beckon with the enchanting lure of a mythical magic land. Earrings, rings, pendants, neckpieces, bangles, anklets…. a chest of treasures and trinkets Chambalama is.
The pendant and earrings I wore today from Fab are also a gift from Sarmistha on one of my birthdays. I usually wear it with a silver chain but couldn’t find it in a hurry this morning, so wore this black tassel instead. The bangle is a gift from her mother and Sarmistha has an identical one too. The jura pin is a gift from my colleague Samabrita.

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