Koshy’s at St. Mark’s Road is one of the places which has resulted in me creating a deep bond with Bengaluru. Ever since I stepped first into this almost 70 year old restaurant, I fell in love with the 90s ambiance this place had to offer. The food is impeccably good, the conversations even more. Moments spent at Koshy’s are always memorable and cherished. Gazing around the sexagenarian population, who are regulars at this place gives you a lot to think about. I remember telling my friend M about how, maybe when we are grey and toothless, we will hang out in this place, talking about them good old days and a group of excited college students will come into the place and sit beside our table, some of them having their first sip of beer.
The plans for visiting Koshy’s today were made right after the semester holidays got over. All four of us were dying to have our share of Kaya Toast; one of the must-haves from this place. Foundation course examinations were finished by 10.30 and we decided that we needed some much needed breakfast. I must say, we were probably the youngest people in Koshy’s today. I saw the familiar crowd of the old timers sipping coffees from their cups, slicing poached egg sandwiches and engaging in hearty, laughter filled conversations. A few office goers were scattered here and there, some engaged in phone calls while others gazing lazily at their Mac Book Pros. We decided our orders; all of us had sandwiches except M who ordered the Kaya Toast for all four of us. And then began the exchange of stories. Koshy’s always brings out the stories within each of us. Somehow, we come to know a bit more about each other every time we visit the place.
In midst of these conversations, after the sandwiches were eaten and the coffee being drunk, an old man came towards us to clear away the table. From what I could gather, he was close to 70; maybe above 70. He had a feeble appearance, a stooping back and as he took the glasses and the crockery away, I was filled with a sudden overwhelming feeling of sadness. It took me completely away from the place, like I was picked up from that place and placed somewhere else entirely. He cleared the table away and as he left, he looked towards D and M with a weak smile, as they thanked him and smiled. I wasn’t able to look at him and I just gazed down at the table. The realization of such an old man clearing away tables at this age made me feel bitter about something but I couldn’t gather what it was. All sorts of random things flooded my mind. Why was he still working at this age? Why are his children not supporting him? Does he even have children, a family perhaps? I felt like apologizing to him, I wanted to tell him that he shouldn’t be doing this; he shouldn’t be spending his life like this. I felt extremely bad that he cleared our table but at the same time I felt petrified. I just gazed elsewhere after he left. The others resumed their conversations while I sat pondering about things I was sure I couldn’t get an answer for. All I could do was to reassure myself. Maybe he had an old connection to this place due to which he hasn’t been able to leave it as of yet, considering there were other aged staff in the place. Maybe he was an old employee. Maybe he liked and was satisfied with what he was doing. Maybe his children did support him.
But somehow, that feeling of sadness refused to budge from its place.