We’re not very sure where all the time went. We can’t even make up our minds whether it feels like an eternity or an instant.
Either way, tomorrow we’re celebrating Dishoom’s first birthday.
A person with good sense – that friend you go to for reliably sound advice – would have told you that opening a restaurant was a silly thing to do. Fraught with risk, crazy long hours, stressful business, they would observe, sagely. If you then added that you were trying to pay homage to some disappearing café culture from Bombay and that the name you were considering was Hindi onomatopoeia for the sound of a satisfying punch, they might start pitying you. Poor chaps, they would mutter under their breath.
In the end, of course, we didn’t listen to that sensible friend of ours. And we’re just really happy and grateful that we’re here on our first birthday.
We also know – as a concrete-clad fact – that the reason we’re here at the passing of the year is the talent and trust of so many. We’re extremely fortunate to have had such a number of great Dishoom-wallas to help redeem us and make it OK that we ignored our sensible friend.
The skill of our chefs. The flair of our designers. The stamina of our managers. The cheeriness of our waiters and barmen. The patience of our families. We could go on. You all have that Dishoom, that spark. In buckets. Thank you, and thank you again.
But those Dishoom-wallas who have truly redeemed us are our guests. You, who trust us with your wallets and stomachs time and again. Who enthusiastically praise us when we get it right, and who have been frank with us and allowed us to put it right when we got it wrong. Who respond to our random tweets, and make our Facebook page a happy gathering, laughing obligingly at our jokes. Who indulge us when we announce that we want to take Dishoom on a summer stroll down to Chowpatty Beach (well, to the Southbank) to drop a mild acid tab. You all breathe ultimate life into what we do, and you have our sincerest gratitude.
We’re truly humbled to be surrounded by such a big number of pukka Dishoom-wallas. We’re glad to have been of service over the last year and we’re looking forward to serving you for many more.
So here, after one year of Dishoom, it’s not really Happy Birthday to us. It’s actually Happy Birthday to you.
Thanks for everything.
(PS. Because it’s happy birthday, we’ll be buying you food and drink over the next few days – ‘like’ and watch our Facebook page for details. Starting tomorrow and Saturday morning with Breakfast naan rolls, onto a lazy Sunday with Bombay Pimm’s and a Vada Pau Monday….)
These are the last few days, the dregs of 2019. It’s my habit to sit here in the Permit Room at this time. I am the be-stubbled and dishevelled regular, cherishing his precious drink at the end of the bar. Weary, I sit here pondering the year, attempting to figure out what it was trying to teach me. What wisdom can I glean from it?
I love to truly understand and appreciate the origins of a dish, and learn how communities have adapted a recipe over time to make that dish unique to them.
We have arrived at a very sad, but inevitable and clear choice. As of now, all Dishooms are now closed to diners.
BOMBAY, 1949. A sultry June evening. Lights glow golden. Candles flicker in the warm breeze that arrives gently through the large open windows of the café.