Sunday, 4 January 2015

Of Indian Coffee Houses and Lovelessness

I don't know what it is about Indian Coffee Houses that people are drawn towards. The coffee is good, i agree. But not everybody likes it. The food is pathetic invariably. Across districts and states in the country. Yet people flock to this place. For those in pain, in love, in lovelessness coffee houses have long been a comfortable abode. I attribute this uncanny love to a happy nostalgia that has been constructed around coffee houses. Of communism, youth, revolt, rebellion, discussions, cigarettes, poetry and everything it takes to kindle a sense of longing, a notion of belonging.

In Trivandrum where i spent a major part of my winter holiday from kolkata most of my evenings were in and around the coffee house near Statue. Trivandrum's most famous coffee house is at Thampaanoor designed by Laurie Baker and which is cylindrical in shape. This one at statue is however like any coffee house. Bustling with activity and people. We would have a coffee or two, sometimes eat. My friend would try to show off his 'british taste' with bread and butter and i would settle for porotta sticking to my malabari roots and pining about the south of kerala's (thiruvitaamkoor's) lack of ability to make any northern dish properly. We would smoke outside in the parking lot and argue endlessly about everything that was wrong with the world.

It was a brief friendship and it hurts to write or even think of it. Now back in Malabar, where you get the best porotta, i miss those bad non fluffy, hard ones at trivandrum. I hated the place and its people but my evenings were good out of love and lovelessness. Out of a strange relationships and a tangle of loose slippery threads of love.

Now in the evenings i make a visit to indian coffee house at calicut medical college. I ride my mother's honda activa and without a driver's licence. The coffee is the same. Even the dirt. Shared cigarettes are ten hours away and a lifetime apart. So much for a vacation which was anything but.

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