Tuesday, June 16, 2009

City Landmark – The Full Circle Bookshop & Café Turtle, Khan Market

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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Shh, She's Reading

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

A Perfect Mess

Will the Khan Market people climb the new Full Circle?

7 pm In Khan Market

Enjoying Café Turtle

7 pm In Khan Market

The old Full Circle

Bookish World

The old Full Circle

Bookshop Life

Café Turtle Special

City Landmark – The Full Circle Bookshop & Café Turtle, Khan Market

Gone with the lease

The World of Khan Market


Kaushik Chatterji said...

I'm back in Delhi for a couple of months. This, though, is one of the places I'll definitely not visit - too snobbish and too expensive.

h said...

Full Circle is always nice to go to, though if asked what exactly sets it apart from any other Delhi bookstore, most people would be at a loss for words - at least I would. Still I buy all my books there. And the odd Tibetan tangkha painting. And still the old crone doesn't smile at me. And now she makes me cold pesto soup at Turtle - I bet my wish has come true and they've demoted her from manager to sous-chef (sous-salad maker?). Why don't they ever make their staff retire? And the new Khan location might just do the trick and send even old loyals to >>shudder<< Bahrisons. Is Fucker Chand still around, or have they become a sneaker store too?

Anonymous said...

Cozy little place.

Mr.Soofi what are you doing on that ricksha ? People, please try to imagine this guy in a grey summer suit in a Digjam suitings advertisement. I think you will look dapper, Mr. Soofi.

-Female fan

Anonymous said...

I feel bad that i have not been to Full circle and Cafe' Turtle after living in delhi for so many years...anyways, next time i am coming back to Delhi, i am surely going there..seems like pretty nice place! :)

Toblerone Choco said...

hmmm...interesting. tho' th woman posing in one of the pix looks quite funny wearing the dupatta with the clothes she is wearing! massive Loius Vuitton bag next to her.
bahrisons is much better.

Reeta Skeeter said...

Lucky you and lucky your lens to have captured it at the old address... sigh me :|

LumousP said...

Never been there, but ti sure looks cozy. it would have been better if they had merged the cafe with the book store.

and Choco, i have to protest, that lady looks chic and fun! especially with the Kolhapuris.

and Austen, that 'straight' love wallah photo is beautiful.

Rajiv said...

hey ,write about birla mandir sum time ,dude

the famous samosaass,mithaiis etc.