Connect to share and comment
What competing cafe life says about an Indian hub of commerce
BANGALORE — Inside Koshy’s cafe in downtown Bangalore, the decor borders on grungy, the service is leisurely and the tables are chock-full of customers at all times of the day and night.
The menu highlight is appam — light rice crepes served with a creamy vegetable stew, made from a recipe perfected by the current owner’s grandmother.
The cafe, on St. Mark’s Road, is something of a Bangalore institution. Regulars include writers and lawyers, retired government officials and old-time politicians. On occasion, familiar faces — like those of British filmmaker Peter Brook and Rahul Gandhi, the scion of India’s enduring political dynasty — can be spotted.
Right across the road is Bangalore’s Hard Rock Cafe. Here the food, drink and music are tailored to global tastes. The clientele is made up of hip, young professionals and international travelers.
In Bangalore, known the world over as a hub of globalization, the two cafes epitomize the two faces of the city.
To its eclectic patrons, Koshy’s provides an anchor in a rapidly changing milieu, a rare constant in the shifting world around them.
Hard Rock Cafe, on the other hand, embodies the city’s morphing face and the aspirations of its westernizing population.
The average Koshy’s patron is a graying, elegant man, dressed in a comfortable cotton kurta (tunic), even smoking a bidi (hand-rolled local cigarette) and sipping freshly brewed coffee. In this no-frills cafe, coffee costs 15 rupees, less than 30 cents, including taxes.
Some customers amble in every day, rain or shine, and do not leave until they have drunk eight or ten cups of coffee. “Nothing seems to change in the cafe — not its waiters, its decor or its coffee,” say regulars like Sunita Krishnan, who considers a visit a trip down nostalgia lane.