'Now we know you are an excellent cook'
I first met Guru in the Indian Consulate in 1964 soon after Guru joined the Consulate; however I left the Consulate about 4 months after that but I kept in touch with Guru by phone and whenever I visited New York from Toronto.
I had some interest in cooking but I rarely cooked when I lived with my parents. After I left home at age 19 in search of a job, it became an issue. For most Indians used to their particular home style food, it takes a while to adopt a new cuisine into their daily food regimen. Even after nearly 60 years when I go back to India they serve the same delicious items, although they now accept food from other parts of India also. I had a keen sense of the right taste for the dishes I am familiar with.
In 1972 when some of us went to New York, Guru asked me to cook for the disciples. The estimated number was 55 or so. I had cooked at most for 7 or 8 in our family - never anymore. I had no idea of the quantities needed. With the help two other Toronto disciples we cooked rice, Sambhar and dal Vada. Guru was pleased, although at that time not many disciples knew much about Indian food. Then Guru said: "now we know that you are an excellent cook, you have to start a restaurant".
I very sincerely resisted to take any responsibility to start one. But the other Toronto disciples were a lot more enthusiastic and urged me with their sincere promise of support. I had no confidence in running a business with hired employees.
Even after I found a place, where the landlord allowed me to keep some equipment, it took several months to start the restaurant. When Guru visited Toronto he was accommodated in that building. I showed him the equipment stored in the basement where the restaurant was to open - He gave a special blessing and said you will start this in 3 months. (When I first opened the store it was close to 4 months.)
Two months after I opened, Guru came to Toronto and inaugurated the restaurant on Nov. 22 1974. This was only 3 days after he had started his Jharna Kala painting in Ottawa.