It was November, 1998. I had just moved to Bangalore as a newly married woman. I had taken a sabbatical from my job and had left my life in Delhi far behind to start a whole new life in tree-lined Uru. I didn’t know many people in the city and most of my new acquaintances came via my husband.
Banglore was different from Delhi
Bangalore felt very different from Delhi. Infosys, Wipro, Microland continuously popped up in conversations around me. It would not be an exaggeration to say I was a tech novice and my husband was just the opposite. He ran his consultancy (Yes, I am the first one in my entire khandaan to get married to an entrepreneur. I’m sure, my chachis and buas must have felt very sorry for this bekoof niece of theirs to choose somebody who’s not in a government job).
After we settled down in our almost Zen like home (well, it was a home without any furniture), I dutifully followed my husband wherever he went. Well, he had a laptop but there was no telephone at home. I don’t remember actually anybody in our immediate circle having internet connection at home in 1999. For all his official work like sending emails, newsletters, my husband had to go a cyber café.
My introduction to CCD
That’s how, I was first introduced to the Café Coffee Day on the busy Brigade Road which was a coffee shop-cum-cyber café. As I walked into the CCD, I thought it to be far more cool and chic place than anything I used to frequent in New Delhi. There was something about the energy of that place and I took an instant liking.
I am a die-hard tea lover but in that swanky surf ‘n’ sip space, coffee suddenly looked alluring. Frothy cups of cappuccino felt quite intimate and delicious like the new life I was experiencing. Almost every day, we used to go to the CCD to surf and sip.
At CCD I got my first email id
Sitting there together, one day my husband opened an email account in my name (of course adding his surname to my name in this mint fresh Hotmail id (“It’s a sexy id,” that was his logic) even though I never had any desire to take on his surname. Like a dutiful wife, I handed him over few email ids of my friends so that he could write a basic note informing them of my virtual presence. So, it’s CCD, Brigade Road that facilitated my virtual journey albeit with lots of help from my husband.
Some coffee and a prank
Well, the interesting thing is that as my husband had access to my password, one fine evening when he went to CCD alone, he wrote emails to my friends (including my former lover) telling them about how beautiful and joyful my married life is and how incredibly nice and loving my husband is. For my friends and the love interest, this particular email came as a surprise (well, those who know me well know that I am not the person who will gush over a companion/lover, forget about a husband or for that matter marriage). So, those intellectual souls while enjoying their share of Wills Flake and Rum punch in a steel glass, did wonder about this strange ‘gush gush’ email of mine. But then they in all their ‘Wills-Rum state of mine’ blamed it on those ‘happy hormones of early marriage days.”
Of course, I was quick to notice this prank played by my husband and soon changed my password. In few months, I started working and eventually my visits to CCD became infrequent. But CCD always brought a smile to my face.
CCD will always be a part of our marriage story
Every marriage has its own tangible and intangible narratives. The tangible ones come with their share of stories, memories of happiness, struggle and togetherness. My parents’ tangible narratives revolved around the Philips Radio they bought in July, 1969 to listen to the news of Neil Armstrong setting his foot on moon, or the Konark TV they bought in early 1985 just months after Rajiv Gandhi became the country’s youngest prime minister or the crisp masala dosas they shared in a non-descript restaurant in Madras. For them, Philips, Alwyn or Konark were not just brands, they were much more than that. These brands symbolized their shared lives as a young couple charting their journey with their own resources.
As news of VG Siddhartha’s death comes in, I look back at Café Coffee Day with a renewed sense of love and joy. That particular outlet in Brigade Road which we frequented as a young couple is no longer there (It shut shop in April this year). After 20 years of my marriage, those early days of spending hours in CCD, Brigade Road still feel fresh and joyful.
I have never met Mr VG Siddhartha yet in strange ways his death brings in a sense of loss and hurt. Like life, tangible memories also become sepia-toned. But then there’s magic in those too.
Coffee has never tasted better. To top it all, Siddhartha gave us a taste of what it means to have coffee from those home-grown brown beans. That will be his priceless legacy.
Thank you, Siddhartha… for all those happy memories we created in our early days of marriage sitting cozily at your Café Coffee Day. A lot of love actually happened over coffee. And the love continues to grow.