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Posts Tagged ‘M G Road’

On Bangalore’s ever-evolving showpiece street, M G Road, time stands still at the Indian Coffee House. When the modern mantra is “innovate”, this half-a-century old restaurant has refused to move on. It proclaims grittily that its future lies in the past.

ich1ich11And with good reason too: the soothing envelope of its old-world charm is still the easiest getaway from the glitz, gloss and superficiality of modernity for thousands of people, from intellectuals to romantic couples.

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No one walks into this coffee house salivating over crispy masala dosas or cutlets. In fact, even a hot cup of coffee is incidental here. The heady brew is the conversation: topics ranging anything from dreams and gossips to sweet nothings; from the latest buzz in the art world to saving trees and lakes; from socialism in the US and capitalism in China to whether BJP will be back in power or whether it will be a Mayawati — more than the clatter of coffee cups, it’s the gentle drone of the chat.

With a pan-Indian presence of around 400 outlets, the Indian Coffee House is also a place where many newcomers to Bangalore feel at home, a place they can easily identify as their own, whose aroma is as familiar as the air back home. Its USP is informality; “be like you are at home”, could very well be its motto.

CROWD-PULLERS 

Dosa: May be soft and served with watery chutney, fork and knife, but many come from far and near for it 

Scrambled eggs: Fluffy and white, soaking the slice underneath, it makes for a yummy, filling snack; quite unique 

Cutlets: In veg and mutton variety, hot stuff 

Finger chips: Another crispy big draw

This is not one of those places where waiters nag you into placing orders; or after having shelled out a good price you are nudged into vacating the place. Here you can sit for hours on end and see through the glass panes the world pass by. If anything is missing it’s the ashtrays and the smoke, thanks to Anbumani Ramadoss.

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The MG Road ICH is a restaurant unlike any other. At this landmark rendezvous more than the taste of the cuisine it’s the comforting ambience that has mattered. The people-centric credo isn’t difficult to understand; for, again it lies in the past. This chain of hotel was founded in the 1950s as a workers’ cooperative society by Kerala’s communist leader A K Gopalan. The subtle Leftists underpinnings are very much there still holding out to the contrariant surge.

But there is now a faint death knell that’s threatening to grow louder. Will the ICH too end up like all good things, only in memory — this is the fear that’s haunting Bangaloreans. But, ask anyone at the coffee house and they will tell you: “As of now, we aren’t going anywhere. We are here.” Hope that reassuring promise holds good.

(The Indian Coffee House lost a case with the building management filed in 2003 and it will have to vacate the premises. The earliest deadline was some time in 2006, I am told. It has got pushed further and further under pressure of public goodwill. It’s also being said that the ICH is indeed looking for an alternative site and once that is ready, it will move out. But when that will be no one knows. At least no one is willing to say officially. A version of the above writeup appeared in Sunday Times of India, Bangalore, February 22, 2009)

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