City Hangout – Two Stalls and a Tree, Connaught Place
A perfect table for one.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
There is a red letterbox in Connaught Place (CP) that you must visit.
But it’s not about the letterbox. Next to it is a lush banyan tree.
But it’s not about this magnificent tree either.
Underneath the tree are two stalls. Sanjay Yadav’s establishment serves excellent ginger-flavoured chai, while Rajesh Kumar’s establishment serves tasty tiny samosas.
But it’s also not about these stalls.
The stalls are circled with little slabs of concrete that serve as seats. These are refuges of shade and company.
But it’s not about the seats too.
The twin stalls draw a fascinating range of humanity. An auto driver was holding a flaky mathhi and a mobile phone in his hands, clasped together like a prayer. A salesman stood still with a bowl of samosas, his right foot tipped upon his left foot, like a model posing for a brand shoot. And a librarian in earphones is attending a zoom meet on her phone while having a glass of chai.
But it’s also not about these customers.
Here, you experience a kind of catharsis from life’s everyday dreariness. On the right is Kasturba Gandhi Marg with its flow of cars and autos. On the left is the pavement buzzing with the area’s officer-goers — they are silently walking to-and-fro as if they were gudde-gudiya (dolls) being manipulated by an invisible puppeteer.
A masked pedestrian suddenly stops on her way and stares at her mobile screen with widening eyes. Amid all this, you continue to sit motionless, as aloof as a monk in a hilltop monastery.
But, it’s not even about you reaching a zen-like state of mind.
The magic lies in the combination of all these elements.
Indeed, as the pandemic fades, this spot in CP ought to be a preferred destination. Here you may sit, eat and drink — al fresco — for long, uninterrupted hours, accompanied with a book or a laptop. In the spirit of the best café traditions, you are thrown right into the city’s throbbing pulse, while simultaneously marooned within your own isolation. The chai stall opens daily from 6 a.m. till 5 p.m., and the samosa stall opens from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. But you always have the tree.
The good café