Often, we walk out of the restaurant because the ambiance and atmosphere is so dead. But what would you do if you were actually dining with the dead? It would be an absolutely bone chilling and a breath taking experience.
I walked in to a restaurant in Ahmadabad near Lal Darwaza—Lucky Café, located opposite the House of MG, and close to Sidi Sayyed ni Jali. This is a small café which serves you amazing food and offers a unique dining experience. You are never alone here. You are with the dead. The guy behind the counter told me that this café has been offering this strange experience for the last 60 years.
This café is located in a part of Ahmadabad that is primarily a Muslim area. There are graveyards here, which have been around for 300-350 years.
According to a story by Sanjay Austa, The restaurant came up in the 1950’s when vacant plots were taken over as part of Ahmedabad’s steady urban expansion.Rather than being bulldozed or circumvented, the café, which was built in one of the numerous graveyards, assimilated the land in a way that is characteristically Indian. The founder of the New Lucky restaurant K.H. Muhammad originally had the tea-stall outside this Muslim graveyard. The tea and buns here became so famous that he had to build a structure to accommodate the rush, and he built this around the graveyard.To give this unique and out of this world experience the graves were preserved rather than ripping them out to make way for the restaurant. Steel bars have been erected around the graves so that no one will trample on the deceased. No one is even sure who the graves belong to, but the prevailing theory is that they belonged to Muslim followers or the family members of a 16th century Sufi saint.There are now two sections of this café—the Lucky Café, that serves only tea, biscuits and buns with butter, while the other section, New Lucky Café serves South Indian dishes with cold drinks or tea.
The owner of Lucky Café, Krishan Kutti Nair says that it is because of these graves that people of all age group walk into his café and enjoy the food. They are actually not bothered by the green graves next to their table (or the giant neem tree happens to have in middle of the café). It is all part and parcel of the décor of the café.
Every morning before starting the business, waiters spend some time wiping the gravestones and decorating them with fresh flowers. It is their way of paying respect to the dead and perhaps, seeking their blessings.
Their USP apart from the ambiance is milk tea and maska bun which have been witness to many a conversation—be it the elder folks who are talking about politics, young couples who are planning their love lives, or the families that are just spending some quality time together.
So the next time you’re in Ahmedabad, get a chai and bun maska at New Lucky Café, and pay the dead (and the living) a visit!
Originally published on Food and Streets.