For most of you in your twenties, living away from family and working in a big city, you would identify to some extent to the popular sitcoms you binged on through school, college and work: Friends, How I Met Your Mother or The Big Bang Theory. The common thread which runs across all the shows binds you in some ways as well: friends, financial woes, professional disillusionment or relationship issues. But there is one other theme which is prominent across them AND all of us would instantly recognize its significance: A FAVOURITE CAFÉ/BAR TO HANG OUT AT!
So while Sheldon and gang couldn’t get enough of The Cheesecake Factory, the Friends swore by Central Park and Barney and his team drank their way to misery and happiness in the McLarens Pub, in real life, most of us would have SOME place, usually close to home/work which we frequent more than any other. As our life turns upside down, this place stands for some semblance of stability, familiarity and permanence.
Take my case for example. I have been living in Powai for almost five years now. I have changed five houses and two jobs, made new friends and lost a few good ones; I have seen new places come up in the neighbourhood while some others have shut down and I have lived through a fair amount of change over time. But what has not changed is my favourite café/bar: Jugheads. Overlooking the Powai Lake, it’s a fairly shady place, but never empty. This is one place and one relationship which has stood the test of time. Back in 2009, when I had just started working and when I spent most of my salary on rent, Jugheads was one bar which accepted me with open arms and generous Happy Hours. We celebrated most of our successes there: clearing exams, getting married or growing up. We also mourned our sorrows there: breaking up, quitting jobs or leaving the city. Not to mention all the matches we watched or all the fish fingers/cheese chilly toasts/chilly chicken we had. Five years later, I was still there, getting drunk on Happy Hours and polishing off the fish fingers while watching India cream Bangladesh and Australia in one-sided T20 matches. Could I afford to go to a better place: Probably. Did I want to: Probably not.
As things promise to change over the next few months, as close friends move on and as life looks to turn over a new leaf, I get a little scared. But then I look across to the comforting and colourful Jugheads board and I tell myself that it’s going to be ok. The music will remain the same, the cheap alcohol will still be there and the fish fingers will taste as yummy as ever.
And the place where everybody knows your name is still there...