Sunday, February 10, 2013

cafe culture


wherever you go, there you are. and there too is a cafe. this one is in sector 9 of the kumbh mela site in uttar pradesh, on the north floodplain where the ganga and yamuna rivers meet.

here, you can buy chewing tobacco in lurid packets and chai made on a stove constructed out of the remnants of a biscuit tin. the tiny cup you get is hand-made pinched terracotta, the inside surface perfunctorily introduced to a flame and only waterproof for a minute or two. but it is time enough for three sips of cardamom-spiced tea. the empty cup, tossed carelessly wherever, is quickly crushed to a powder indistinguishable from the street: a particularly high form of context-specific design. disposable espresso cup makers of the world take note.

the chai business in the kumbh mela's ninth sector, alas, cannot be said to be booming.

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