Jaffars: Those were the days when….

In years gone by, there was only one place in Madras that seemed to be transplanted from overseas to give you the Archie’s ‘Chocklitte Shoppe’ experience: Jaffars. Just off the now disappeared Elphinstone theatre, and actually opening on to its grounds so that movie goers could fulfil their desires during the interval, it was accessed from (the then) Mount Road through a narrow gap near Chellarams.

Any visit to Mount Road in those days (And there were many: Bata for shoes, Chellarams for school uniforms, India Silk House for birthday and Christmas shopping….!) were planned around a visit to Jaffars, for going there was an absolute treat. School kids, particularly those in the hostel, used to come all the way to Mount Road just to visit Jaffars on their days off. While the older folk loved going there but used to pretend that they were only doing so because they had to accompany the little ones!

Jaffars consisted of a long counter with all kinds of gizmos rearing their heads from the sunken work counter below. Blenders to whip cream, fruit and other ingredients to make lip smacking milk shakes, ice cream dispensers and other gleaming equipment were all there in formidable array. One could sit on the bar stools at the counter (most of us wide-eyed children always did that!) or at low tables with seating along the length of the counter, the decor being predeominantly green with chrome and glass.

The routine consisted of the breathless contemplation of the much used menu before the final deep breath and exercising of choice. The placing of the order, followed by watching every move of the person behind the counter while he carefully prepared your drink/sundae/shake, while the anticipation grew. Culminating in being handed a tall, gleaming metal glass, frothing over with whipped cream, which one clutched in one’s sweaty little hands. Then the blissful sense of indulgence as one slowly sipped and savoured every delicious mouthful as it slid (oh so deliciously!) down one’s throat!

The all-time favourite was the Chocolate Delight, which used to have chunks of Cadbury’s chocolate laced into it to munch on. Ask anyone who’s been to Jaffars what they remember having, and chances are they’ll say, “Chocolate Delight!” It used to be fairly expensive (At ten Rupees!) in those days, but the choice of most young people although there was so much more to choose from. Indeed, a whole generation of young people grew up on visits to Jaffars when they happened to be on Mount Road.

Sadly Jaffars closed many years ago when the area was redeveloped. Although there are so many parlours today, I cannot think of even one that can compare to Jaffars, or evoke that sense of wonder and excitement that Jaffars used to. Perhaps because there are so many of them today? I don’t know. But what I do know is that Jaffars will live on in our memories for those magical moments they brought into our lives when we were growing up.

6 Comments so far

  1. Cheemachu (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

    Well said David. You took me on a trip into nostalgia.

    I distictly remember the Mango Milkshake.

    Not to forget the Peach Melba and the Banan Split.
    You are absolutely right none of today’s joinds can replace Jaffers, which was also called the New Elphinstone Soda Fountain

  2. Ravi (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

    David, yes, I have heard this from my father that a normal Sunday outing would be dining at Buharis and dessert at Jaffars (though the falooda at Buharis was famous). Hmm.. such posts really help us know the Madras of yesteryears and I love reading them. Thanks David!

  3. Raj (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 10:03 pm

    Ha, my personal favourite used to be the jaffarco Special which used to be the most expensive item at around Rs 20. You made my taste buds all nostalgic with this post.

  4. Mukunth (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

    Yo! I remember eating a chocolate sundae yeaaarsssss back when I was a kid. It was a “treat” I looked forward to, when I did well on my school weekly/monthly/yearly tests!! But, boy, I did love sitting on those bar stools like in those western movies :)

  5. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on November 26th, 2006 @ 6:25 pm

    Yes David,I had gone to Jafars when we went for movies in New Elphinstone Theatre. After the New Elphinstone Theatre was demolished giving way for a Commercial Complex, I remember that Jafars was shifted to the the lane by the side of India Silk House.

  6. david appasamy (unregistered) on November 26th, 2006 @ 11:23 pm

    Hi GV. Yes, so my brother told me as well. jaffars was apparently shifted to Richie Street, but I dont think it exists there today.

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