It was raining cats and dogs. The clock struck 12 A.M on Shimla office tower in Shivajinagar on a wet Saturday night. People were rushing to their shelters since the rain started around an hour back. Farshid Chacha was driving his car across Apte Road when he found a lone girl standing at the dark corner of the alley drenched in rain, feeling helpless. It was pouring and in the revelry of an outing with her friends at a nearby pub in Ferguson Road, Neha realized later that she had dropped her phone somewhere. The street looked deserted and there was no one around to drop her. Now with no phone, she looked restless as she couldn’t book a cab or an auto rickshaw. Some rickshaw passed by her but didn’t heed to her request to drop her 15 kms away to her place from her current location. If they agreed, they were charging her exorbitant fees taking advantage of the situation. She had handful of cash as she heavily relied on phone wallets. She was anxious as she couldn’t inform her parents of her whereabouts. That’s when Farshid Chacha stopped by her to offer any help.
Farshid Chacha was like God Send to Neha as he readily agreed to drop her to her place. He was very mindful and understood her predicament and offered to help after hearing her out. Neha breathed a sigh of relief after informing her parents that she is on her way to reach home by calling through his phone. After settling herself on the backseat, she started talking to Farshid Chacha to start a conversation. She learned that he was on his way home for dinner when he found her. She thanked him profusely as he was going out of his way to drop her home safely. She began to ask him more about himself as she found him very caring, jovial and one who loved to talk. Farshid Chacha began to recite his story.
He was descendant from Iran and his name Farshid meant bright as the sunshine. His grandfather migrated to India with his whole family due to economic reasons in late 1800s. They were put up in Colaba in Bombay where they settled near Fort area. His grandfather started all sorts of business to make ends meet. He used to sell exotic fruits near Gateway of India, put his mind on varied business opportunities like farming orchards, fabrication; stone quarrying etc. His father too followed his grandfather footsteps and was very sharp and street smart in doing various business ventures apart from being a sportsperson. The sport bug hit young Farshid too; especially cricket. Back in those days, Parsis had their own cricket team along with a separate Hindus, Muslims and a European cricket team who fought in a quadrangular tournament in Bombay Gymkhana. The competition invited fierce battles and people thronged to the gymkhana to witness the cricket spectacle. But sadly, teams had been formed on religious lines and it got ugly sometimes. Farshid was an opening batsman and a mysterious spinner and had played a vital role in many winning battles for Parsis. After his marriage, his ageing father-in-law offered him to run his Irani cafe in Pune. Back then, cricket was not a career option and Farshid whose responsibilities had doubled after marriage thought it was a pragmatic option. Since then, he shifted to Pune with his young wife back in 1970s.Iranis were known for running restaurants, cafes and bakeries and once they shifted to India especially in Gujarat, Bombay and Puna, they started Irani cafes and restaurant chains. One such cafe in Pune was started by his father-in-law called as Goodluck cafe. They were known for their Bun Muska and Irani chai. Rather than for commercial reasons, they had served their patrons with love and all the warmth. They were pioneers in terms of hospitality and had customers from all walks of life visiting them on a daily basis. They believed in this adage- Khavanu, Pivanu, Majaani Life– meaning, eating, drinking to heart’s content and leading a cheerful life. Some of the college students who were regulars had a cordial relationship with Farshid chacha. Farshid chacha knew more about the students than their own parents. He was also called as happy uncle by these students for his jolly nature. Under his ascendency, Farshid chacha introduced new items like bread omlette, kheema pao, family recipe berry pulao, caramel custard and raspberry soda from Pallonjis which did wonders and worked out really well. They didn’t venture in expanding into branches though it was always jam-packed. One could get a pulse of Pune through their patrons and everyone had a story to tell about their food and amazing hospitality. Back then, it was such a joy to run a restaurant among his encouraging and loving customers who were like his extended family. It didn’t feel like working for a single day in the company of his customers. But life changed upside down when he had to close down his restaurant owing to health reasons. It so happened that both his kids who was an architect and software engineer in multinational companies in US and Canada decided to settle there with their own families. This old style hotel business didn’t interest them one bit. It was a shocking bit of news to many of his patrons and they only wished him well. Farshid Chacha believed that the real reason for his deteriorating health was not due to ageing or any specific health ailments but the decision of his kids and his anticipation that he could no longer run the restaurant just like earlier days. But still, he knew he had to move on and lead a contented life like he always did.
This was kind of jolt to Neha to hear the way it ended but it was very inspiring nevertheless, as Farshid Chacha was full of life and he had no regrets whatsoever. Just then she reached her destination and thanked Farshid chacha for his generosity and wished him well and promised to meet him soon. It was a great learning for her that nothing is permanent in life and one has to do most of the opportunities life throws at you and lead a satisfying life.