causing a ‘sugar rush’ since 1955
It’s early in the afternoon, definitely past the unusual office rush-hour, but no one seems to have informed people on East Street. There is serious traffic jam here. Apart from the vehicles, there seems to be a jam of people as well. The parking slots are full, but somehow, that has not discouraged the people swarming in. At first glance, the traffic jam and crowd are difficult to explain.
One might think that the stately single-storey structure — home to the Cantonment’s first Western-style restaurant and ballroom — has attracted all the visitors. Though a pale shadow of its past glory, the building does house a Cantonment Board dispensary, a telecom firm service centre and a restaurant. But none of these three establishments justifies the crowds.
While the dispensary and the service centre do not have too many visitors anyway, the restaurant too is currently closed for renovation purposes.
For an answer, look a little ahead, and perhaps at your wristwatch. The Kayani Bakery is to shut for the afternoon in 20 minutes, and this crowd must rush to get its hands on the biscuits, cakes and other baked goodies before the bakery downs its shutters.
The bakery, started by a Zoroastrian family, opened its doors on this premises in 1955. Since then, business has been roaring. Incidentally, the items on sale — the different of cakes, the very-popular Shrewsbury biscuits, patties, orange-flavoured biscuits and the quintessential khari — have not changed much over the years. The evidence lies in the antiquated menu board on one of the walls. The prices, however, have changed, though the goodies here are not as expensive as some other big-name bakeries in town.
Henry Gomes comes to Pune from Mumbai almost every weekend to meet his parents. And every visit is also marked by a trip to the Kayani Bakery, to stock up on mawa and Madeira cakes, which Gomes takes back with him.
“The mawa cake here gets sold out fast. Hope it is still there,” said Gomes. “This place is part of my childhood memories. I used to come here almost every weekend with my parents. Of course, I now come here every time I visit Pune,” he adds.
And he is just one among the many, many loyal customers the bakery has. Though Kayani Bakery accepts only cash, even last year’s demonetisation did not adversely affect the business. “There was bound to be some effect. But we did not suffer much. Our customers kept coming. Most of them are very old and they all want their mawa cake and khari with tea,” said a shop attendant.