In a city like Delhi where Social Offline and BYD (Big Yellow Door) seems to be in vogue, a place like Indian Coffee House seems to be doomed by the allure of the former. However, it is one such place that captures the thoughts of common man, cultivates them and creates a revolution out of it. The coffee house is one such place where watery coffee still holds the perfect aroma and the dilapidated sofa still seems comfortable. ICH promises to take you down the memory lane thanks to its post colonial aura where waiters still adorn the ‘Gandhi-topi’. The word ‘still’ is relevant here as it bespoke of inanimate things that have been left in their dormant state and continue to be like that for the ages to come.
Nestled in Man Singh Palace Shopping Complex since the 1950’s with silence at its backdrop, the ICH has three different segments- a hall, a corridor and a terrace. While the hall bustles with people during summers thanks to the slow functioning fans; the corridor is blazed with fiery discussions during the winters. The food served here ranges from hot piping sambar and dosa to the not so chessy omelet. This place still follows the old custom of serving tea in a kettle with biscuits which is referred to as ‘pyar mohabbat wali coffee’ by the old timers. One can easily identify that the menu has not been changed since long as lemon squash has not given its way to virgin mojito. The menu stands upright on the tiled wall with all the savories being priced at cheap rates. The staff being dressed in spotless white is soft spoken and steady while not being pushy at the same time.
An uncanny gloom, agitation and silence bespoke from every nook and corner which eventually breaks down by the heated deliberations on severe political issues where a group of middle aged people express their opinions every now and then. The corridor is perked up by the presence of people playing guitars while relishing the cold coffee which tastes more of water than coffee. ICH have been like a temple for some people who visit this place daily not for food or coffee but for their earnest attachment with this place.
This place has its own socio-culture which is now ingrained in the hearts of the frequented retired old men who have a habit of coming to this place every day. This place not only welcomes the oldies of the city but also embraces the youngsters who are equally delighted by its sartorial charm. It can never compete with the high end cafes sprawling in the city however its majesty remains unparalleled to umpteen number of budding food joints in the city. This unpretentious place remains in the heart of people who have been coming here since long.
It all dates back to the late 50’s and 60’s when this was like the only café in the city and office goers used to come here for the solace it provided to their souls. Musicians, painters, writers, poets, philosophers used to throng ICH thereby making this place a much celebrated affair. Eventually ICH is somewhere lost in the allure of modernization where people cannot settle with anything less than opulent interiors, sumptuous delicacies and rich culture. Nevertheless, one cannot undermine the glory and charm of ICH which is considered as the ‘thinking man’s favorite haunt’ for it has hosted some unremarkable verbal duels that were just like a food for the soul. The coffee house has acted like a communion among people for it weaved people into one close knit. It will continue to be a common man’s food joint and would continue to serve the watery coffee with the sweetness which is just enough to tranquilize the soul.