LIFE - COLORES INFINITUM (41)
When I got this sudden call to
reach the Connaught Place (CP, in Delhi) on an off-day, it was routine. There are
some good, quiet places in the chaotic CP where we can sit and spend some
quality time, be it for some professional engagement or spending time with friends
or simply for networking.
While discussing about the place,
the idea of the Oxford Bookstore and its Cha Bar cropped up once again. Though
the Oxford Bookstore along with its Cha Bar (a good place for quality tea while
leafing through the pages of the books carefully selected from the book shop –
the old experience) had reopened some months ago and in CP only, just in front
of its previous address, the Statesman House, we had not been to the place yet.
And we decided, let’s meet up
there. For me, it was always a good time out option with its concept of the
previous bookshop (rather a book lounge) in mind – a lounge sort of environment,
peaceful and appealing, plenty of good books to read and decide from, with sips
of different preparations of tea (coffee too) and some good bites and a good
view of the traffic on the Barakhamba intersection that added positively to
your time there.
But, I should say it was a letdown
like the Starbucks CP outlet. The reason behind it is the ‘book lounge’ feeling
has been totally compromised. Though, it was never too spacious even while in the
Statesman House, one felt at ease while reading through and choosing the books
and more importantly enjoying the time with the books with a seamless access to
the lounge area. There were no lines drawn and the sip of chai (tea, since its
Cha Bar, let’s go with chai, the Hindi for tea) blended naturally with the
That was not the case with this
reopened outlet. Here, the Cha Bar was on one side of the book shop clearly
separated from a wall with poor sitting arrangements. It looked chaotic. Crammed
with people, it was indeed more like a poorly arranged hangout zone of some
eatery. Also, there was no outside view like the Barakhamba intersection.
It looked more like a narrow space
carved somehow from the book shop to focus entirely on the commercial aspect of
the Cha Bar as a hangout joint for that small bite while one looks to sit
somewhere, a good place, certainly not on the line of the concept that I had in
If we think of the aesthetics associated with a book lounge sort of environment, it was totally absent here.
Add to it, the music was poorly chosen for the ambience and was distracting,
more like in the CCD (Cafe Coffee Day) outlets, loud and interfering. Even the
white of the walls could not prove soothing.
Overall, it didn't give you the
feeling to be at ease with you (when you had the concept and the feeling of the
previous bookstore of the Statesman House in your mind), be you wanted to be
with books, with you or with your friends.
I opted for ginger chai and it was
equally disappointing and so I didn’t go any further. Hope, the next time, I
will be served a better quality chai for my time and money there.
I googled for Cha Bar images of
the old and the reopened bookstore and came across these which clearly tell the
difference (a letdown).
|The Oxford Bookstore and the Cha Bar while in the Statesman House, CP, Delhi|
(Image sourced from a Blog*)
|Cha Bar at the reopened Oxford Bookstore, CP, Delhi|
(Image courtesy: Zomato)
|Reopened Oxford Bookstore, CP, Delhi|
(Image courtesy: Zomato)
The only saving grace came from
the book shop (and not book lounge). Book stacks were easier to approach. Here
the white gelled well with the ambience. The collection was obviously good. It was
supported well with material on multimedia content. There is no need to write
on other stuff available in the shop, the gifts, the goodies, the accessories. They
were regulars like in the previous one.
Yes, the positive development for
me, to visit the bookstore, came in the last, during the time I spend looking
for books, movies and documentaries. Surprisingly, I could find some good
content on Auschwitz and Holocaust.
When almost every book is available
from online bookstores like Amazon or Flipkart on healthy discounts, and that
too, at your doorstep, bookstores like Oxford (not offering any discount) with
concepts like Cha Bar can still a good draw provided they maintain the lounge
character of the store. That I could not find here, during my first visit to
the reopened and the remodeled store. Hope, it will be a better experience next
time, obviously with a better chai.