Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cup Cafe: Post of appreciation

This one's for Cup Café.

I still remember my first day at Cup Café. It was somewhere in 2013. One of my closest friends and I had just spoken to this artist about a tattoo and we were in the Town Hall area, looking for a place to eat. My friend suggested this little place she had been to with her mother than had decent food and, if I remember correctly, amazing chocolate cake.

And so we walked there, to this tiny little café that I had walked past many times without having ever noticed the place. I can't remember what exactly we ordered but I'm sure we got ourselves a slice of their Death by Chocolate. And man, was it heavenly.

Somehow this little café became 'our spot' for meetups. We rarely met up at other places. Cup Café was everything we wanted. It was usually quiet, not crowded, the people were so sweet, the food was good, the drinks were amazing (lime mojito, I would die for you) and the prices weren't too bad. Plus it was at a convenient place for us both.

Some months later, I went there with a friend from my then-place-of-employment. We left office around teatime in search of a nice cup of coffee and somehow walked to Cup Café. We had our drinks and, again, a slice of cake.

Over the months, Cup Café became the place we went to when we needed a break from work. Later, when our group of friends joined different newspapers, we made Cup Café our meetup spot. Again, it was easy to get to and we could just sit there for hours, catching up and just chit chatting.

And so Cup Café became a place where we were comfortable talking about our many screw ups. Where we would bitch about work. We laughed, we sat in silence, we made plans. And we always sat at that corner booth by the window. We people-watched. We hoped and prayed no one would be seated there when we got there. And usually, no one was. We made it our spot.

And Cup Café was safe, for me, to be alone. Not in the sense that other cafes aren't safe to be alone at because most are. But, you see, I can't talk to just anyone. Hell, I can't even walk into just any place. Cup Café didn't have that effect on me. I could walk in all alone, feel comfortable being alone at that booth. I felt comfortable placing my order, smiling at those faces familiar to me, although to them I was yet another unknown customer.

I found peace and quiet there. I would read, work, write. I would just sit there, staring at the empty seat in front of me. I listened to the noises of the world outside. I felt safe.

We all have one such place, don't we? A place where we go to when we need time off life. I've been at Cup Café on my best days and my worst days. I've been happy, sad, lost, angry and confused. I've been able to leave some of the mess in my head behind as I slid into one of those comfy seats, removed my watch, placed it on the table, opened a notebook, and then just leaned back and relaxed. I've been able to feel like the world wasn't such a terrible place once I was in that cozy café, because it felt so removed from the rest of the world. It was a world of its own.

It was a pretty special place.

Today, I checked their Facebook page to see if they were open tomorrow. I was greeted by a post saying they were relocating and that the new address would be revealed soon. I read that and felt so utterly lost. I know they aren't shutting down but that journey I made there was something I could do without putting much thought into it.

I didn't go there often. But I feel like that bus ride there is etched in my mind. Outstation bus to Bambalapitiya. From there a 155 to Town Hall. And then walking past the people at the bus stop, the mosque, the little shops and finally, there it was. So easy to walk past. But once you walk in, you are home.

And so to think that this place I had become so comfortable with was finding itself a new home affected me more than it should. Because it's not easy to get used to places. It's not easy to feel at home at places.

I know I sound ridiculous, writing about a café as if I lived there. As I said, I don't even go there that often. But it's more than a place to buy food and drinks. It's more than a place to rest my aching legs.
We will most probably keep going to Cup Café, regardless of where it takes us. So this isn't a sort of goodbye post. It's just a post of appreciation, one that is long overdue.

Because, Cup Café, thank you for existing.