The second of my posts on Mumbai’s eating out experiences, this lunch was very different from the afternoon spent at LPQ. It’s right next to Flora Fountain, this treasure called Kitab Khana, a bookshop and cafe, the best of both worlds of reading and eating, housed inside a 150 year old heritage building.
Run by the Somaiyas, who own the building as well, the shop was a treat to walk into. As an architect, I was fascinated and proceeded to ask a zillion questions and take many pictures. I learnt about the seepage problems the building has, the problems of renting out heritage spaces and the sheer amount of money and effort it takes to maintain a shop like this. Yet, in the manager’s eyes I saw the pride and the sheer love for what he does. The staff is old-world and affectionate, as I found out from the little chit-chats they had with the kiddos.
The cafe is small, but served an excellent selection of pastas, sandwiches, salads and desserts (couscous salad and blueberry cheesecake recommended). We were catching up with dear family friends and Aadyaa had spent the entire morning with them. Though the lunch was planned so that we could get Aadyaa back with us, she had had so much fun with her new-found friend Radha that she went right back home with them! The cafe at Kitab Khana seemed like an extension of home and the two girls danced, sang and chatted their way through the meal. For the rest of us, it was catch-up time as well. For Udai, it was serious food time and he also had the opportunity to buy the next book in the Percy Jackson series. That one needs his reading fuel to be uninterrupted, or else we are in trouble!
Today’s afternoon was well spent at Gurgaon’s Rajiv Gandhi Renewable Energy Park attending a unique event that called upon us to carry our old books there, swap them and participate in a range of workshops geared at promoting a more sustainable and enriched lifestyle.
For me, the event was a super success. I managed to give away 45 books of mine (and mum’s) that occupied space on the shelf (I chose ones I didn’t enjoy too much or the one-time read variety, but all in good condition). In return, I got to choose 11 other books I haven’t yet read!
I didn’t go in expecting much and was pleasantly surprised to see the event was well organized, using volunteers from the city (who all wore green!). Things were kept super simple. For example, swaps were done by giving contributors simple hand written chart paper coupons which they needed to hand over to the volunteer at the desk from where you picked up the books you wanted to take away (one coupon for each book you could get). Similarly we got a coupon for each workshop we had pre-registered for. My children both attended a story telling session. And Udai learnt to make a bird house at another workshop which he attended with his grandmother and another friend. Other workshops included drawing, art appreciation, theatre and creating stuff from waste material. A lot of parents we already knew happened to be there and the children were happy, despite the heat, in the wide open spaces and greenery that the campus offers. Aadyaa ran around, tried all the swings and was her usual monkey self!
I was heartened to see that a lot of the books sent in as well as picked up were for children. The event swarmed with kids of all ages, especially many teenagers. A few kids managed to read the books they picked up during the event and reswap them before they left! In fact, the event was free of charge and a lot of stress free and clean fun for all age groups. A great way to subtly send across messages that remind us to respect nature, indulge our creative side, do our bit to conserve energy and simply be more responsible human beings. Events like this go a long way in building a community of interested citizens. Kudos to the organizers for the efforts and hope for many more….