Mumbai: Cafe Military bids adieu to its matriarch, old-timers fondly remember ‘Aunty’

Sadaf Modak
mumbai city news, cafe Military mumbai, Cafe Military, Shirin Khosravi, mumbai police, indian express news

Shirin Khosravi (78) passed away on Monday.

Shirin Khosravi, the 78-year old co-proprietor of Cafe Military in Fort, South Mumbai, was a regular sight post noon at a square table opposite the small cashier section. In her collared dresses, typically with floral or geometric patterns, Shirin seemed like any other customer at the cafe, reading a newspaper until she could be seen alerting a staffer about something a customer needed.

Shirin passed away on Monday morning, three years after the death of her husband, Behram, who had taken over the 87-year-old cafe from his father in the 1950s. “She began coming to the cafe to give my father company and they would return home together. After he passed away, she came here in the afternoons. She was of the belief that the more you work, the healthier you keep,” her son Sheriar said.

Shirin suffered a stroke and collapsed on the street near her home in Mazgaon on Sunday, and was rushed to a hospital for treatment, but succumbed a day later.

As a partner in running the cafe, she kept a close watch to ensure that service remained quick for the office-goers, lawyers and employees of nearby stock companies who would visit the old-worldly cafe, popular for its Parsi fare, including daily specials such as dhansak, mutton masoor, farcha, kheema, raspberry soda and custard.

“She loved walking. She never took a cab to come to the cafe as she hated the bad roads, traffic and pollution. She walked to the station from her home and then walked to the cafe from CSMT every day, come rain or shine. Once here, she would keep a close watch on all the needs of the cafe, including supplies, staff, customers, the quantity to be served and the temperature at which to serve it,” says Parvez Patel, a friend of the Khosravis.

“She loved meeting and speaking with old-time customers who became friends over the years and still dropped by to meet her,” Patel said.

Shirin, or Aunty as the cafe staff called her, usually came in the afternoon and had fixed timings for her lunch, one cup of chai and dinner. “She was here till late on Saturday,” said Narayan Adav, who has been at the cafe for over three decades.

With its red-and white-table cloth, the cafe’s menu under the glass top and bare black chairs, the cafe continues to be popular. “Many suggested to both Behram and her that the place should be revamped, but they liked to keep it simple. She felt it should not dig a deep hole in the pockets of regular customers,” said Patel.

Shirin’s son, Sheriar, said he will continue to run the cafe.