If you are in Ahmedabad and you don’t know where to celebrate Halloween, that would be an amazing coincidence, but why not try this bizarre snack bar called The (New) Lucky Restaurant and eat among the graves? You can find it in the area of Lal Darwaja, not far from the old center of the city and next to the famous Sidi Saiyad mosque and its even more famous tree-shaped Jali!
Fifty years ago, a tea stall was situated next to a Muslim graveyard but it was so successful that the owners decided to extend it among the tombs and neem trees.
Today, the graves are painted green and surrounded by railings. They are respectfully cleaned and decorated everyday as they are the highlight of the tea joint. But whose graves are these? After searching on the internet, I read they might date back from the 16th century and were supposed to belong to the family of a Sufi.
I went there in a morning with my friend Shubbhra and we had a dosa and a delicious grilled sandwich. We were sitting by a lovely range of tombs! If you want to improve your French, it is funny to notice that the grilled sandwich I ate is a kind of snack which exists in France too. It is actually called croque-monsieur, ( croque = munch) ! And by the way, it also sounds like another French word croque-mort, (mort = dead), which is nothing less than an undertaker! ( French undertakers were supposed to bite the thumbs of the corpses to check they were really dead!)
Well, if you don’t want to try the lucky “croque-monsieur”, I heard maska buns were the best. (warm buns with butter…). The chai is also really famous for its inimitable chocolate aftertaste. The fresh mango juice is thick and yummy!
However, my friend and me didn’t even notice the highlight of the place, the gold icing on the jalebi; a real picture by Maqbool Fida Husain himself hanging on one of the walls! We didn’t know a masterpiece was in the restaurant then! The great painter loved going there and he was friend with the first owner Mohammad. He said that place gave him “a feeling of death and life”, a kind of carpe diem sensation. He made a picture and gave it to the restaurant in 2004. Well,to my mind, it looks a bit like a poster for a Tunisian travel agency but I heard it cost a great deal of rupees!
Stories are told about the great costumer: it is said the painter used to come there barefoot. Other rumors say bottles of tea from the Lucky Restaurant were ordered to be taken by friends especially for him while he was self-exiled in Dubai!
Now, the last question is: Are you ready to have lunch among the dead? In Ahmedabad, some people say they feel the presence of God thanks to the shrines and some others go there every morning to spend an auspicious moment providing luck for the rest of the day… so now, you know why this teashop is called The Lucky Restaurant!
Click on the photo to see where there are from.
And to finish, the rules of the restaurant pinned on the wall. I can’t read Gujarati but I know the last rule is “Don’t fight with the waiters!”