The 60s were the heydays of Delhi University, renowned for it academic track record as well as for other activities like art, gardening, sports and campus brawls.
Kirori Mal College occupied a unique place among all the colleges, including the famous St Stephen’s and Miranda House, renowned for its wonderful students.
The prestigious Hindu College had a kind of quiet halo when compared to other colleges. While KMC boasted of Amitabh Bachchan and other actors and a bevy of beauties headed by Sharda Malhotra and others, Ramjas College flaunted the talented tennis ace Gopal Banerjee.
The Coffee House in Kamala Nagar was the nerve centre of all these students, destined to become great artists, filmmakers and administrative officers in the future.
Big B, or “lamboo”, who bestrode the verandahs of Kirori Mal, was the apple of everyone’s eye owing to his impeccable behaviour. Not far behind was Saeed Naqvi, who even at that time was a forceful political analyst and a formidable debater of the university.
Historian and writer Harbans Mukhia and NCERT chief Arjun Dev were some upcoming stars with whom I had the fortune of sharing the KMC hostel.
As students we often were broke, and sometimes had no money to afford a meal at the cheap tea house nearby, leave alone the expensive India Coffee House for its tasty idli sambar combination.
Our refuge during those ‘lean’ days was Eat More, a tiny restaurant in nearby Jawahar Nagar. I was the one who discovered this eatery, which served delicious Bhindi chappati, bature and alu parathas.
A full lunch cost less than two rupees. Slowly, Eat More gained in popularity and our professors too started patronising the humble place which supplied food to the many famished students with huge appetites.
It was a regular haunt of Big B and his gang after the evening tennis sessions at the KMC courts, as well as thespian Prof Frank Thakur Das, who once remarked that the place was an answer to the appetite of the gourmet population of the College.
It was even rumoured that our then Principal, the late Dr Sarup Singh, frequented Eat More late at night.
I was lucky enough to meet him regularly in Trivandrum after he was appointed governor of Kerala. As I look back at those days, I know that those are memories that time cannot erase.