A man and a woman, both Manipuris, met on a sultry afternoon and decided to love each other and start the best possible Manipuri food joint in Delhi
This is the story of two best of friends, Pooja Moirangthem and Bhopen Chingtham: a friendship that turned into love later and eventually led them into becoming a happily married couple.
But the fact is you can eat out of this romance, literally.
Both of them hail from Manipur and it was their rendezvous on a hot and humid Delhi day that triggered the Cupid.
However, this is not about their love story only ‑it’s about them sharing a dream and taking a chance to achieve their goal, amidst the COVID19 lockdown, knowing that it was a big risk.
They wanted to start this small quaint bespoke café that would serve comfort food to the whole neighbourhood of Humayunpur in Safdarjung Enclave in South Delhi.
They picked up the place and started building their dream.
Let me tell you that this area is projected to be the successor of Hauz Khas Village, which is a fabled hub of art, culture, music and food. A culture buff’s ultimate destination
Pooja and Bhopen’s place is upcoming, happening and cool‑if I were to describe it in the language of millennials.
A café that doesn’t just serve comfort food like the forgotten bread roll, bun and omelette, which used to be famous snacks during your school times.
It is also offering traditional mouth-watering home style Manipuri thalis, catering to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian customers- served in big, hand-crafted wooden plates.
Guess what? Even the menu was meticulously decided and picked, as they tried to put themselves in the shoes of varied people and imagined what one would like to see on it when they walk in
And in between these delicious meals, if your modern appetite craves for cappuccino, americano or cold coffee: that’s there on their menu too.
Freshly brewed with the best quality beans, their coffee is quite a competition to the known chains also.
Today, this café,which is just about a month old, has already created a loyal base of customers and is adding more every day.
Pooja and Bhopen have their sweat and blood invested in it.
They ran from pillar to post, hither and thither, sometimes getting into adorable arguments and differences, to handpick and shop for the finest crockeries, furniture and decorating items.
When you walk into their café, you will witness their hard work and the love with which they have built every inch of this place.
Guess what? Even the food menu was meticulously decided and picked, as they tried to put themselves in the shoes of varied people and imagined what one would like to see on it when they walk in.
But tragedy struck when they were ready to go live: the news of national lockdown saw their dream crashing right before their eyes, and confinement of the initial 15 days turned into a nightmare of over three months.
But as is said, the darkest time of life actually teaches you a lot, and it did to them as well.
The grim news of people not being able to manage even the basic meals of their day, losing their source of livelihoods and many other such news made them be grateful for what they have and not to take things for granted.
They worked harder and the period of lockdown gave them added time to create more perfection.
Thus, this café was not just another business opportunity for them but they looked at it as something that taught them life’s biggest lesson‑humility and gratefulness.
Sashi Sherpa was a journalist of renown in Sikkim till 2002, someone like an early incarnation of Ravish Kumar, dreaded for her investigative journalism, and is currently the General Manager of a travel business company in New Delhi