Sunday, August 17, 2008

Café Coffee Day, Sterling Suites, Whitefield

The Starbucks of India is as ubiquitous as its American counterpart is in the places where it holds sway, but the coffee is a hundred times better, perhaps two thousand years better.

The music swings wildly from Eminem to Bryan Adams, Alicia Keys to Celine Dion, SP Balasubramaniam to AR Rahman. The clientele is the same sort of mix, a teeming sample of India in a Petri dish.

The English on the menu is impeccable, but everyone else struggles a little with the language. The influences of the two colonial masters, past and present, are not so much intertwined as hopelessly tangled. They do seem to call it a zee now but they don't use it in "realise". It might be listed as a cookie but it's sold as a biscuit. A new generation will have to be trained from birth to call it a jelly donut. Till then it'll be jam. You can offer your customers a muffin but you won't get them to ask for it. It is, has always been, may remain for ever, a cupcake.

People are not quite used to the girl sitting alone and doing her thing but I'm getting them used to it pretty quickly by repeated application – a useful lesson I learned from P G Wodehouse. If I don't go out and do this now I will get resentful and claustrophobic – the other side of living in a small town, caring about the gossip, staying under the radar, "looking out of the window, staying out of the sun". This may be Any(boom)town, India, 2008 but for some of us it's just a small town and I know as certainly as if I overheard it that "they" are talking about me. The difference is that it makes none to me.

I'm glad I have a coffee shop 30 seconds from my house.


sujata said...

when we were growing up in whitefield we saw only farmers on their hero cycles, now we are all grown up i feel like a farmer albeit in an auto or hired whitefield. i feel so lost at 'home' now.

Gargoyle said...

I know how you feel...

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