In our age of virtual sharing gone berserk, here's a refreshingly tactile effort by a British ad agency. For new restaurant Dishoom, OgilvyOne U.K. is collecting customer stories through the Internet and baking the best ones into Dishoom's dinner plates—each one nicely designed in a way that fits that particular story. The campaign draws on an ethnic tradition. Dishoom is an Irani café—styled after similar cafés opened in India in the 19th century by Iranian and Persian immigrants. The sharing of stories over food was a big part of the Iranian café tradition (and restaurant tradition generally). OgilvyOne started the campaign with 80 plates featuring the personal memories of Irani cafés from the older generation in Bombay and the U.K. See some examples below. Now, new visitors are being asked to contribute. "Crazy and unusual anecdotes are very much encouraged!" says the site. "Tell what you used to do—whether it was hanging out with friends, dating, bunking off, doing business deals, finding inspiration. Tell us how the food tasted, the conversations you overheard, how the place felt, the more personal your stories the better." Via Creative Review.
It was my first visit to India. I was in Churchgate near the station and used to visit this old cafe on the corner for some of the best dosas and uttapas in town. The owner introduced himself and made me feel like he was one of my uncles. Uncle Satish or 'Satishbhai' as I called him invited me to their late night card games, and I learnt all sorts and made all sorts of new friends. Only in such a cafe, could you feel like you were part of the family as soon as you walk in, and leave with not only a full stomach, but a whole new bunch of friends.
Adi was tickled when he heard about my memories of the cutlet gravy at Cafe Excelsior from a decade back. He immediately called for a plate of gravy for me to taste. I took a spoonful…creamy yet edgy…an initial soothing sip followed by a slow but resounding hit of chillies. A very elegant and yet passionate sauce. I liked it so much that I finished the contents of the saucer. Seeing the delight on my face Adi insisted on packing some cutlets and gravy for me to take home…and some slices of bread too….the bread turned out to be as soft as Cupid's cheeks. I pointed out the lack of salt in the dhansak to Adi. "Well that's good for old people no with BP? Others can add salt" said Adi with a smile.
Colaba is the most popular tourist hub of Bombay because of the famous Taj hotel and gateway of India. A lot of Iranians migrated and settled in Colaba. They relate to this place a lot. Everytime I come here, I see them sitting around and it makes me feel comfortable. I've been a student of Xaviers College and have been very fond of this Irani Café, especially when you have a tight budget cause I'm in college. The food is very affordable. Every time I have a friend visiting, I bring them here to give them a taste of the real Bombay experience.
I once asked Mr. Kohinoor, who is 83 and owns Britannia Restaurant what would happen to Britannia when he was no longer with us. Gesturing towards his son and brother he exclaimed (a bit loudly!) "The moment I'm gone, these buggers will shut the place down!"
I held Bapa's hand tightly.
I was so scared
So many people
And I, so small
I sat in the chair
My chin on the table
A big smile.
Tutti Frutti Ice Cream.
Afshin Kohinoor, Boman's son, started talking to us at length about the restaurant. He pointed to the portraits hung on the wall, spoke about the letter written to his father by the Queen of England, and pointed to one of their latest awards. …and then willingly posed for me with a trophy. And then when we were leaving, asked us to return with our boyfriends. "I don't want to see you alone next time," he said.
Overheard one evening in an Irani café in South Mumbai's Fort District. A customer complains to the owner, that there is no sugar in his tea. "Did I call you? Did I say, come to my shop and drink tea? You are the one who climbed the steps and came. Today there are no complaints. Everyone's quietly drunk their tea and gone. No one said anything. What are these tantrums that you come up with .... God knows how your wife stays with you. Is she still with you or has she eloped and run away."