It was very close to the 5 star and just before the boat docks. A regular L shaped shop converted into an eating space with few tables-chairs, cash cabinet & a display cabinet.
As K had been living in Candolim for a few days, took me to this place. K always seeks and finds such places. Thank you, K.,
Mix bhaji asaa? We asked cornering the only corner table.
Asaa, answered the local boy. His curly haired, fair skinned typical Goan looks made me smile. Let me explain why.
Candolim used to be a sleepy village surrounded by beautiful water bodies. Till people discovered music festivals, clubbing, bed n sex by the sea. Tourism boomed, with it came people from all over the country to stay and work there. Now Haryanvi’s cooked prawns vindaloo & Bongs stewed Beef Xacuti while Goans sat at home & counted their rent money.
Poori aa? K asked the boy referring to the deep-fried bread, the North Indian brother of the more local poi.
Ek plate? The boy asked the quantity while bobbing his head in a yes. We confirmed one plate by collectively bobbing back.
My eyes spotted a man in shorts & T & talking on his mobile on the other table. Meet Patrao, the local fixer.
Patrao, the go-to man to get you a water connection or tickets on the next Space X ride with Elon, he claims to get the job done. People who meet him at the shop order & more importantly pay the tab for Patrao’s food. On the rare day that Patrao is by himself, the local boy enters his name in a small book as 27/08/2021 Patrao – Rs 64??
Ek plate Wada di, K tells the boy.
Ek plate wada di, boy shouts across to the kitchen.
Ek plate wada! Ek plate wada!! Shouts echo back from kitchen.
Satisfied, the local boy turns his attention to the new occupants on the third table at a safe distance from Patrao.
(In Hindi) Kya lega? What will you have?
Wada pav hai? a young men asked. All of them had rough hands and strong spines – labourers.
Wada pav hai aur mirchi pav bhi hai, local boy answered. These two dishes cut class, caste & chai joints across the country. Three of them confirmed a wada-pav each while one adventurous boy asked for a mirchi-pav. And they all ordered tea with it.
K ordered the Mirchi plate after he heard them order it. As soon as the boy got our order, it started raining.
Tea in the rains was a no-brainer. Do chai, I ordered.
As the rain pelted down, more people walked in – a lover boy ate usal-pav while constantly tearing up & texting, a couple parceled 6 pavs & omelette while sipping chai & smoking & Patrao smiled as a walk-in customer ordered sukhi bhaji for them. The local boy between serving his customers got us the last of the sweet buns to accompany our chai.
Just as we finished our tea, K got a call. He got up to walk and talk. I ordered coffee on a lark. I sipped & saw people eat, talk, pay and leave. Just chai & conversations – that’s all it took.
I asked the local boy for the bill. It read –
2 Sukhi bhaji
2 Mix bhaji
2 Mirchi plate
3 plate Poori
Sweet bun 1
Total Rs 270.
The cost of a single coffee in a lounge café. Local rocks!
Keno? I was getting the money from my wallet when the local boy answered his mobile.
Kaunsa gaon? I asked the boy about his village, after I heard him talk on his mobile.
Assam, he smiled in reply.
So much for local, I thought as I paid up & left the shop.