We all have our favorite cafes. Places we like to go to with our friends and family. Some give us a warm, fuzzy feeling, others, remind us of our crazy college days and then, there are some that remind us of everything that’s familiar. Indian Coffee House, Connaught Place, is one such place. Many of us went there first when we were children and had all that space to run around, while our parents and their friends talked about everything from economy and politics to their government jobs and the latest changes in the city.
Now, when we visit the place, it feels as if, everything around it has changed. But this one place is exactly how it used to be. In a world where the old is crumbling and the new is preferred, Indian Coffee House gives us a sense of solidity and permanence. Here, tea is served in a kettle, and butter-toast comes with a knife and fork. The staff uniform with the turbans, and red and green belts reminds one of colonial times. The place has a lot of old-world charm and the flaws don’t seem like flaws, they add to its character. No wonder it’s been included in Time Magazine’s list of ‘25 Authentic Asian Experiences’.
“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t come here for the food or the coffee. I come here to people-watch and get material for my short stories. The conversations here vary from troubled relationships and college gossip to Tolstoy, Arundhati Roy and the current situation in Kashmir. Plus, because the food here is so inexpensive, I don’t feel guilty about coming here thrice a week,” says Meera Chatterjee, a Delhi-based fiction writer.
There are no takeaways, no self-service and no waiters in baseball caps. But it’s the place where you can come and spend hours. Get your favorite book or meet an old friend for a cup of tea, and find a quiet table on the terrace. The last time we visited the place, we saw an elderly man sipping a cup of tea and reading the newspaper. We reckon he visits the place a lot because he called the waiter by his first name and inquired about his son and wife.
In 2009, there were reports that the place would be closed down due to the outstanding rent that needed to be paid to New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC). But the Indian Coffee House consumers forum managed to fight pressure from authorities and it continued to stay. We reckon it’s going to be around for a long time, and if you haven’t already visited the place, we suggest you do.
Where: Indian Coffee House, Mohan Singh Place, Second Floor, Near Hanuman Mandir, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place, New Delhi.
Timings: 9 am to 9 pm.
Nearest Metro Station: Rajiv Chowk.