Waiting outside for my turn to come, I was eyeing around the old historic restaurant. The place was buzzing with many hawkers and with the people who were just waiting like me. My mind travelled back, a six years from now, when this place was filled with the cries and the blood of many innocent lives. People were running to save themselves from the firing of a few hungry vultures who claimed that they were serving their life for their Jihad.
A few days back, I had been to one of the oldest restaurant and bar “Leopold Café” established in the year 1871. Yes! Leopold! Does it sound like a familiar name..Right! You might have come across the name Leopold café in Gregory David Roberts’s novel SHANTARAM, where the cafe was very well described ! It is one of the popular bars located in the Colaba Causeway of the South Mumbai, INDIA. It serves various delicious cuisines and is particularly famous for its delicious pastries and yummy cakes. As my name was called, I along with my friends occupied a seat in one of the corner of the restaurant. Once we ordered the food, we looked around the restaurant. People were talking, giggling and cheering with their friends and families. The restaurant inside is very simple with the round shaped tables and comfortable aligned chairs around it. It has a mezzanine level which is a bar. The exterior of the restaurant won’t seem great initially, but, you would fall in love with this place once you have been here. The interiors have a retro look to it, with the old paintings and portraits around. You will even get to read and see many funny one liners and the pictures of evolution of alcoholic beverage brands. There were a few frames of critics, displaying the credentials and the best dishes served at the restaurant. Suddenly, to my left, I noticed two big holes on the wall. With the curiosity rising inside me, I inquired with the security guard and I came to know that they were the marks of the bullets fired during the 26/11 attack. Later, he showed us a few more bullet holes around. None of the holes were sealed and they were kept as a memory of the 26/11 attack.
Leopold café was one of the sites along with the Taj hotel, Trident hotel, CST station, Cama hospital, NAriman House and the Metro cinema that were attacked by the terrorists on 26th November 2008. The cafe was damaged as the terrorists had dredged it with many bullets and had killed many harmless people who had been there to enjoy with their friends and families.
With the deserts done and the bill Paid, we were on our way to the exit. The place was still buzzing, people were still waiting for their turn for a table. My visit to this café was delightful, but, when the images of the 26/11 attack emerged in front of me, I felt very bad for the people who lost their lives in this attack. I left Leopold Café with some blissful and emotional memories. If you are in Mumbai, India, I reckon your trip is incomplete without visiting the Leopold Café.