Safe Heaven/Haven

By Anushka Naurla
Picture Credits: Anushka Narula

I’ve never liked the clichéd positive mantras, those typical love live laugh ones, whatever order that goes in. They tend to lack credibility, in my opinion. But there is one that doesn’t have a pungent stink of ignorance; instead it has a sweet tinge of romanticism – that good ol’ get away destination for the staunch realists. “It’s the little things that matter”, is the one I am referring to. 

Ah yes!  Looks-at-pretty-skies-and-sighs, looks-out-the-moving-car-window-and-randomly-smiles,  stops-by-a-chai tapri-in-the-rains. You know the drill, and you know the kind.

“I love how this place smells!”,  I say when I enter a cafe.

Exposed brick walls, lit so dimly that you barely see the person sitting across from you, and that’s how you know you have no reason to feel insecure about your greasy face. Soft jazz music that gives a melody-a little poetry to this setting if you will. 

“How very calming”, I say when I hear those tunes, like an old man sitting in his massive chair by the fireplace, listening to an old record, all too familiar with that music. I am neither old, nor familiar, for the “record”. 

You see, I am not fussing about being in love with cafes. My sarcasm is aimed at my insufficiency and my inability to fully comprehend why I love them so much. I mean yeah, I can love them without having to break it down but you know it gets annoying when after a long sucky day, I will the world around me to shut the hell up and let me *ahem* “gather my thoughts”. And I find myself very pleased with the idea of doing this in a place, like the one I described above. I like to think of such a place as the absolute fit for that kind of mood- you know, where you want to look around, take deep breaths, order a good hot cuppa coffee, sit down with a diary or something and just…be. 

Well, so far so good. A little extra, but good. 

What troubles me is how I call myself a realist after not being able to handle the noise. You see, I am okay with the noise as long as it’s muffled. I like the rains as long as I don’t have to walk the muddy roads. I like looking at the coconut vendor from inside the cafe I am sitting in, which thankfully has a perfectly positioned transparent glass window overlooking the street. I might also smile at him and take a picture or two, but without stepping outside in the heat. I am not saying that I like comfort, or maybe I am. But more than comfort it is the need to feel protected. But I don’t want to be ignorant. I do want to step out of my house… pfft! I don’t want to be a pussy. I also don’t want to use the word “pussy” without making it clear that I do it ironically, I do it with full knowledge of its negative connotations. See, I told you I don’t want be ignorant. I try as much, not to be. I am just…

Anyway, I think what I am trying to say is that cafes, the kind of place that I describe above, is the kind of place I find most suitable for my inner conflicts. It muffles the reality for me, cushions the blow with its calm yellow lights perhaps. Its like, when you’re in a room full of people, arguing or something, and you want to block them out but you can’t (for a reason, I haven’t fully formulated) leave that room. So you start to imagine that this scenario you’re in is actually a scene in a movie. In your head you start to look at all of them as characters that you’re directing and so you start to feel a lot less out of control. That’s what cafes are to me. The place where I can sit down and observe, you know like a realist, but the setting is so poetic that it leaves me room for adorning the things I see with some sweet (and harmless?) Romanticism. It just makes reality a lot more bearable. 

“Uhm…and you’re saying just cafes do all that to you?” 

You might want to google “romanticism” if you still feel the need to ask me that.