Nowadays whenever we enter a cafe, we find that people not only visit it for recreational or rejuvenating purposes but also for working. A person sitting by the window jotting down some things in their notebook, or another working on their laptop, or a group of people having a business discussion, or a person reading a book are some of the common sights that greet us upon entering a café. While this is a trend that’s growing steadily in India, it’s not altogether new.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, coffeehouses in London were a popular visiting place for not only writers but traders as well. They were the foci of fashionable and public life as well the gathering place where well-to-do people besides having tea, chocolate and coffee, also discussed latest news and formulated business transactions. These places were also known as ‘penny universities’ because by just paying a penny anyone could go in and be a part of the conversations taking place between writers, politicians, adventurers, businessmen, artists, bankers and so on. It was in these coffee houses that new trends and tastes in literature and art were set.
Interestingly, in one of the famous journals of that time, ‘The Tatler’, the subject of each article was followed by the name of the coffee house or any other place that it came from. As Sir Richard Steele says,
“All accounts of gallantry, pleasure and entertainment shall be under the article of White’s Chocolate-house; Poetry, under that of Will’s Coffee-house; Learning, under the title of Grecian; Foreign and Domestic News you will have from Saint James’ Coffee-house; and what else I have to offer on any other subject shall be dated from my own Apartment.”
Hence, in a way of saying this trend of working in cafes dates way back but there are some things that never go out of fashion.
Working in cafes has become a sort of tradition. Even modern writers such as T.S. Elliott, Franz Kafka and F. Scott Fitzgerald have played their part in upholding this tradition. J.K. Rowling wrote most of her Harry Potter novels in The Elephant House in Edinburgh.
Every writer has their own imagination, style, language and a way of writing. There are certain things, like experiences, favorite places, nature and other such things that trigger their mind and make them write. However, some writers are also observers; they like people watching. Sitting in a café, looking at the body language and behavior of some people and listening to the conversations flowing around can sometimes prove quite beneficial for some writers. They get ample ideas to write their novel.
Then there’s also the ambience, the beautiful surroundings and the aroma of caffeine that adds to the appeal of a café. While writing is an art, not everyone can write staring at the contours of their own bedroom.
There’s another important factor which makes writing in cafes such a novel, productive as well as fun experience. Sitting there engrossed in one’s own work doesn’t feel like working. There’s a saying that when people do something that they really enjoy, it doesn’t seem like work. And there are so many cafes in every state that no matter where you go, the feeling never grows old.
A non fiction author, Malcolm Gladwell who himself frequented various cafes and restaurants and preferred working there in lieu of his office was once quoted saying:
“Writing seems like a fun activity now… it’s more seamlessly integrated into my life and that’s made it much more pleasurable.”
Here are a few cafés in India (though there are several such hubs in the entire country right now) that will compel you to leave the comfort of your own home and seek the pleasure of these places:
HAUZ KHAS SOCIAL – Located in the Hauz Khas village of Delhi, this is a good place with a great crowd, mouth-watering food and drinks. The place is classy with a lovely ambience. And what’s more? The staff is polite, attentive, friendly and courteous too. Not to add the picturesque view that attracts the writers’ attention promptly.
Although this is just one ‘Social’ that has been mentioned here, there’s one on almost every corner in India. It is almost on the verge of becoming a substitute office.
BEYOND CAFÉ – Situated in the Jubilee hills of Central West Hyderabad, Beyond Café as the name suggests is a more than just a coffee shop. It’s a boutique coffee-shop cum art gallery, which is superbly suited to relax in spacious environments. The pleasant surroundings as well as the ever smiling faces of the staff add to the appeal of this place. Not to add the delicious food and the cozy indoor space, a green porch and a luxurious patio which gives an ample choice of seating, this is every writer’s fantasy place.
THE BAGEL SHOP – Do you like indulging yourself with a bagel along with a cup of coffee? This is the place for you. Formerly a rundown bungalow, this cute little café is hidden away in the Pali hill in Bandra, Mumbai. Evolving gradually from a local hangout to a place that welcomes the creative minds, the café has a comfortable seating arrangement and a cozy ambience. The café is also pet friendly and the staff is courteous and friendly.
If you feel the pangs of hunger while engrossed in the plot of your novel, you have various delicacies to help yourself to.
With beautiful surroundings, mouth-watering delicacies and an unending supply of coffee, aren’t cafes the best places to let your imagination run wild?