Aai Tuljabhavani Chowk

Aai Tuljabhavani Chowk conjures up images of a temple dedicated to the deity Bhavani - the demon slayer, killer of Mahishasura. One would also imagine that this chowk would be located in Tuljapaur, where the original temple lies. But then you are mistaken. It lies here, in the city. One can be sure that not many residents living in the buildings built around the chowk are also aware of it's location. It is that nondescript, well, almost. Located facing the chowk stands a cafe. It is an average cafe, serving good (premium) coffee (which can never match the essence of the Filter coffee, but good coffee, nevertheless) The patrons are mostly struggling actors or some established TV actors too. If you are a follower of some of the popular TV soaps on air, you might have a good time spotting Dr. Nidhi sipping her cappuccino after her tiring shift at the Kotnis hospital.

The seating is comfortable and apart from the mini-celebs there are many friendly faces around. Pretty women in skimpy shorts and overpowering perfumes sit in the smoking area, blowing rings of smoke over cold coffee, discussing the deals available on shoes. No one seems to mind. The folks inside have a great view, while the man on the street just stares in amazement, wonder, shame, entirely dependent on the demographic he belongs to. On the higher level, the seats are even more comfortable and everything seems cozy. The staff is polite and friendly and the toilets are clean but enough of the cafe.

Perched on one of the chairs lies a young man. His eyes darting from his diary in which is making notes to the street where buses zoom past the chowk. He is edgy and he is jumpy, clearly the two cups of coffee has not had any effect on him. He is in familiar territory but everything looks so strange. He can see that house from here. The house overlooking the street and the cafe and the filthy black river where one can, at times, spot a beautiful kingfisher besides the usual egrets and herons. The house that is the home of a dog with poor bladder control. The house was where he last saw her. She doesn't live there so what's the point of looking at it anyway, he talks to himself. Smiling nonchalantly at the lady in shorts who looks at him quizzically, kind kid he thinks to himself and looks away.

Everytime someone walks down the stairs from the more comfortable floor, he looks expectantly at all of them. But they ignore him and walk out of the door and light up, almost immediately. He tries to make sense of the notes in front of him and they all point in different directions. So he calls for the bill, pays it and gets up to leave the cool environs of the cafe. There doesn't seem to be any more reason to be wasting time in this corner of the city when the evening could be spent by the sea. The bus lumbers past the chowk and starts to slow down as it nears the bus stop. He grabs his bag and makes a dash for it. The sun sets over the chowk and the cafe lights up, just like its patrons.


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