I used to think the I-write-in-a-café generation was just high on caffeine. People went on and on about the tranquility of coffee shops, how easily their thoughts flowed, how the steaming hot coffee went down their systems, washing away anxieties and unleashing their creative energy. What a load of hogwash.
All this, until I started trying it out myself.
There was a lovely café near our home in Vienna, and they made a mean latte. When the church bells rang in the morning, the café would get its lights on, and the air would start turning aromatic. It was icy cold outside; the snow still falling steadily. But inside, it would be warm and cozy, and few other joys in the world can compare to that of warming my freezing hands against a cup of deliciously hot Viennese coffee.
Aside from the coffee, what I liked best about this place was the serenity. It would never be too crowded, and even when it was, people talked in soft voices, some of them working away on their computers, some poring over Christmassy novels, nothing in there to pull you rudely from your thoughts and plant you amidst rowdiness, despair or discontent.
Lately, I have started frequenting this café near my home in Pune. It has earthy interiors — all done up in wood and varying shades of brown. The music is never obtrusive; the coffee never weak. I sit by myself in a corner chair, sip from my cup at intervals, and write. Outside, it doesn’t snow, but it does rain. The raindrops dance against the windowpanes; the trees shake up their foliage. Sometimes, when its sunny, stray sun rays enter through window cracks and light up my table.
In a cafe by myself, I don’t have to participate in forced, stifling conversations or partake in communal jokes that I find awfully unfunny. My thoughts, too, adore my little corner bench, and many of them come visiting: thoughts of bygone days, of dreams I have long forgotten, of the marigold plants I used to admire as a child, of the white cat that would always fall asleep on my feet on winter afternoons in Delhi.
A café after your own heart can become a little slice of bliss, a sheltered world within the noisy one outdoors, a quiet place for your soul.
By the by, excuse me for a bit while I tune it to the music of gently falling rain, the whispers of my thoughts, and the tip-tap of my keyboard. Have you heard it yet? It is a lovely composition.