People usually visit a graveyard or kabristan as called in Urdu on sombre occasions—bury the dead or commemorate those who have long gone. However, there is one such graveyard in Ahmedabad where people flock to meet their friends and have a cup of tea.
Lucky Tea stall known as ‘The New Lucky Restuarant‘, located in the old Ahmedabad region of Khamasha, is a cafe built on kabristan. It is one of the unique places where patrons get to dine with the dead. The cafe has evolved at a place where once a kabristan existed. Instead of clearing the graveyard to make way for his restaurant, the owner Krishnan Kutti decided not to disturb the dead from their resting place. He made sitting arrangements for his cafe by setting tables at the space available between the graves.
The New Lucky Restaurant has 26 graves in all, many of them hundreds of years old
Usually, people would have frowned on the idea of having tea or food in the graveyard. But not at the New Lucky Restaurant. The place has 26 graves in total. However, it does not bother the customers visiting this place as they spend long hours in the restaurant, feasting with the dead.
Following India’s independence, when unoccupied plots were joined with the city for the development, an ancient graveyard was bought by two young men—K.H Mohammad and Krishnan Kutti Nair. They started a tea stall as a handcart under a neem tree next to the graveyard. Besides tea, they also sold creamy buns commonly known as ‘maska buns‘.
Within no time, their masala tea became well-known, and soon they had to build a structure around the tree to cater to the increasing number of customers. The restaurant started gaining popularity because of its masala tea served with a signature twist of cocoa powder. The combination of masala tea with maska bun became the star of this place. In addition to tea and maska bun, they also added other delicacies based on customer demand.
While the people of Ahmedabad had initially rejected the idea of consuming food in the graveyard, but when they realised that the graves belong to holy saints of the 19th century, the reluctance and the taboo of not visiting the restaurant eventually faded away. Every morning, the graves are cleaned, and fresh flowers are offered as a mark of tribute to them.
Famous painter MF Hussain frequented the restaurant during his stay in Ahmedabad
‘The New Lucky Restaurant’, is quite a famous place in Ahmedabad, both among the elderly and the young. People from far and wide come to the restaurant to undergo the surreal experience of dining among the dead. The place also held special significance for famous painter MF Hussain, who frequented the restaurant many times during his stay in Ahmedabad.
The popularity of the lucky restaurant attracted famous figures to the place. MF Husain, who was also a friend of one of the owners, Mr Mohammad, started frequenting the restaurant in the early nineties. He had reportedly made a painting while having tea and maska bun at the restaurant in 1994 and gifted it to the restaurant owner. The painting still adorns the restaurant and is hung on its wall. The painting depicts two camels and a castle-like construction in the foreground and a desert in the backdrop. It says: “There is only one God, and he is Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet.”