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THANK GOD they didn't check our age at TGIF before they served us our drinks. I wouldn't have become a fan of Long Island Iced Tea for life if they had.

It was the summer of 1997.

Being cool meant flaunting your best pair of Levi's ( ours was the shamelessly brand- conscious generation of the post- liberalisation era) with a Benetton tee and Adidas sneakers, and hanging out aimlessly at the Basant Lok complex in Vasant Vihar after catching a flick at Priya.

Nestled in one corner of Priya was TGIF, where we all came of age by tasting our first drops of spirit. Basant Lok will no longer be the same, for TGIF will now only be at DLF Place malls.

In my time, TGIF was one of those institutions that marked our rite of passage into adulthood.

It was where gawky teens had the heady ( and high) experience of suddenly being, um, all grown up. So what if we were chaperoned by our parents and drivers to and from TGIF? ( They thought we were having enchiladas and fruit juice.) There were times when we tried too hard to look grown- up enough to ask for a drink. One of my friends turned up in way too much lipstick, a skirt she seemed to have borrowed from her kid sister, and her mother's handbag.

She looked like a 15- year- old harlot, and not a 25- year- old legally allowed to imbibe. So when we assumed an ' adult' air in ordering our drinks, the waiter asked for our IDs. Poof went our bubble, but thank God, we had lost our alcoholic virginity before that horrendous moment of truth.

Things came a full circle last year when I drank a tame cup of tea with my mother at TGIF, Connaught Place. The outlet went first and then the original at Basant Lok downed shutters for good. I fear TGIF at its new venues will be lost in the crowd of pubs, lounges and food courts that crowd the malls. An institution is lost, and I will miss a piece of my coming- of- age years whenever I visit Basant Lok next.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 4, 2009
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