A good part of my growing up years was spent in salivating over the goodies of our friendly neighbourhood bakery, Kamrup Bakery in Guwahati - a veritable Alladin’s den of freshly-baked goodies, appetising aromas of which would waft out and encircle unsuspecting passersby and slowly but surely entice them inside the bakery. Various varieties of delicious bread (no brown, multi-grain or other pretenders). Cream rolls. Jam rolls. Sweet biscuits. Salty biscuits. ‘S’ biscuits (because they were shaped like an ‘S’). Birthday cakes (with icing so hard that a bite into one could induce slightly shaky milk teeth to get embedded in it. It had happened to a friend’s brother. Only once though.) Boiled cake (an Assamese special). Pastries. And much, much, more.
Everything would be stacked up or laid out in colourful neat rows. Samples would be distributed liberally to help in the crucial decision making process. Of course, the regulars would just have to step in and before one can say ‘Threptin’ their neat brown-paper packages would be waiting for them at the cashier. One fine day, they started preparing snacks such as singras (samosas), egg chops (pronounced as ‘sops’), and if memory serves me right, even chicken/mutton cutlets (minus the stuffy colonial club atmosphere where white-gloved attendants look down upon the non-regulars with practiced disdain). Life became much tastier. However, the inevitable call of ‘higher studies’ meant moving approximately about 3400 km away from Kamrup Bakery. Slowly but surely, like all pleasant memories of childhood, they receded gracefully to that special place where they wait patiently to be revived again. And revive they did when I was roaming around aimlessly in Bara Bazar, Shillong. The heady aroma of just-out-of-the-oven bread helped me sniff out Mr. Biswas’s modest bakery. A bit bashful (as evident in the picture), Mr. Biswas, however, had no qualms about lending me an attentive ear as I recounted tales of my favourite bakery. I asked him for a half-kilo biscuit pack. He happily packed a kilo of his best. And vehemently refused my money. We shook hands and I walked back happily. It always feels good to part on a sweet note with a bakery.