I was first introduced to the delights of tea and infusions by my father who often picked up various Darjeeling and Ceylonese teas for his friends in colleagues before one of his Europe tours. From hesitant sips, to countless rainy evenings in Bombay staring out at our drenched plants with a cup of steaming orange-cinnamon or apple-raisin in my hands…I owe any interest in tea I have today, to my father.
When Oxford Bookstore and the Cha Bar opened in Bombay, I was delighted for multiple reasons. Oxford Bookstore was the first bookstore which offered the ambiance of an international chain bookstore with a reasonably good collection of books AND an attached café, or rather the Cha Bar. I have several fond memories of wonderful evenings spent at the Cha Bar with my family after a day of shopping and satisfying meals in South Bombay. I hadn’t been to the Cha Bar since 2005, so when the opportunity came up last weekend, I actually skipped a cultural event for a couple of hours surrounded by books, conversations and tea.
The Cha Bar in Bangalore is housed in the over the top Leela Palace, an old world five star hotel with large pretentious porticos designed to scare away the common man, gigantic chandeliers and long winding corridors leading to the shopping pavilion. Tucked away next to Anokhi, the Cha Bar is in stark contrast to the intimidating ambience of the hotel. Smaller than the Cha Bar I frequented in Bombay, it did however bring back a rush of memories as I settled down in a corner to wait for my friend’s meeting to get over. I sat and stared for the first fifteen minutes just letting the memories take over. I finally opened the menu after a while and settled down to a cup of hot peppermint infusion with a blueberry muffin, all set to draft out a new article for La Salle des Profs (a blog to which I contribute).
The smooth notes of peppermint washed over my exhausted body and I felt the cricks in my neck relax and the stress of the week fade away and before I knew it I was smiling softly to myself, holding the steaming cup in my hands and staring out into the labyrinth of bookshelves in front of me…