The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Moved from the front lane to the middle lane.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Khan Market’s popular landmark – the jointly owned Full Circle bookshop and the Café Turtle above it - have moved to a new address. Both places are much patronised by the city’s hoity-toity crowd, including the expats. In June 2009, the bookstore and the café shifted from shop no. 5-B, at the market's front lane, to its middle lane, at number 23, atop the Neemrana showroom. Insiders say that 5-B's landlord was not interested in renewing the lease.
The basic outlay of the twin-establishment remains the same. The café in the new place is still above the bookstore. But the bookstore, that was formerly on the ground floor, is now on the first floor.
Should you care?
The truth is that Full Circle is not one of the most exciting bookstores in Delhi. Neither is Café Turtle the most happening coffee house. But they jointly make for an ideal Khan Market experience – pricey food, expensive books (discounts are never given), and lots of white people around.
“Khan Market to me is largely Full Circle and Cafe Turtle,” says Bharatnatyam dancer and television presenter Mr Lada Singh. “It's my idea of spending a lazy afternoon when you want to relish a good read with some decent food.”
This view has many takers. “The twin combination has created a cultural oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the market,” says wine columnist Ms Girija Duggal. “You can easily spend 2-3 hours there, browsing through books or sipping on a cuppa and it's especially special during winters, as they have an al fresco area.”
Talking of which, Café Turtle’s website had gone overboard while describing the view from 5-B’s porch:
“In the quiet, serene heart of busy New Delhi sits Café Turtle, almost like a tree house, surrounded by ancient Peepal and Cotton Trees. Sitting on its terrace watching one of the most spectacular sunsets, you can almost forget that you are actually in Khan Market.”
While the claim about the sunset is largely imaginative, there are quite a few Café Turtle romantics. “I liked the old place for its extensive use of wood, the handmade Buddha wall hangings, the thumping sound of foot steps on stairs, the little cluttering of forks and plates, and the sound of people whispering,” says Mr Singh. “Combine all of it with that perfect apple pie and the book you might have just purchased downstairs from Full Circle and then what else do I need?”
Well, if you need, say, chicken tikka, it won’t be available even at the new Café Turtle. “My friends aren’t that fond of it for it’s vegetarian,” says PR professional Ms Arshi Uppal. “Besides, this café is not out of this world and there are better options in Khan Market like the Market Café and your regular Barista.”
The more pressing problem, though, is the Full Circle’s new location. Every experienced Delhi bookseller knows that no bookstore has done well in the city if it is not on the ground floor. “It’s an Indian thing,” shrugs Mr Anuj Bahri of Khan Market’s legendary Bahrisons Booksellers. “While we’ll go even to three floors for ladoos and coffee, we’ll never do that for books.”
If the Full Circle’s chances are less optimistic, surely Delhiwallas will not mind climbing to the café above it? So what if the terrace there looks to the main gate's 'spectacular' traffic chaos, instead of the sunset. “Accessibility matters,” admits Ms Duggal, “but when I can gladly walk up to Big Chill and Market Café, which are also in the middle lane and yes, on the second floor, I may as well hop into the Turtle, too.”
Where Shop no. 23, above Neemrana, Khan Market Ph 24655641 The Full Circle is also in N 8, GK Part-I (Ph 29245641), N Block Market Café Turtle is also in Number 8, Nizamuddin East Market (Ph 41826124-25)
The old Full Circle
Will the Khan Market people climb the new Full Circle?
Enjoying Café Turtle
The old Full Circle
The old Full Circle
Café Turtle Special
Gone with the lease