I drove (actually pillion rode) across a promising looking converted-bungalow in Banjara Hills painted a calming blue in those hip incomplete brush strokes. “Mocha” declared the board as I rubbernecked, temporarily ignoring the story my friend was telling me through his visor. It had been a while I went to a decent coffee lounge.
Landed up there one fine weathered night with an old friend and walked into totally a my kind of place. Odd assortments of furniture scattered in every room, bright painted walls with large Nizami style mirrors. cloth curtains in plain colors draped casually across wrought iron window grills. The conversion of the bungalow was perhaps deliberately partial so that the place still had the coziness and familiarity of a drawing room. Past the rooms into an equally inviting courtyard. Cloth canopies softly lit by paper lamps hanging from generous trees. With these surrounding, the weekend ahead of me and the re-union with an old buddy I sat myself down on an extravagant looking couch for an evening belonging to what some would call the good life.
I wish I could go on with my accolades about the way the place been set up, rather cleverly left intentionally chaotically upset. But the discussion now must turn to how the management at the cafe trails way way behind the design of the interior spaces. They have fallen prey, as many Indian joints with pretensions often do, to the economics of the short term. Let down number 1: forcing us to buy overpriced mineral water. There is not a thing that I can think of that is as singularly annoying and cheap as this tactic to make an extra buck. We ordered an apple mint Sheesha. Another commonly occurring annoyance now presented itself. The price was something different from what was listed on the menu that had been graphically designed to match the ambiance. We got past the incident by a “ok whatever, just bring it please.” Apparently, buying a dubiously priced Sheesha (Rs 245) doesnt cut it. The waiter pestered us with regularity with “Sir, can I get you a bottle of water?” “Something else to drink?”. So, to get rid of him we acquiesced reluctantly.
My friend and I had a great time, which is possible by virtue of the mise-en-scène if you completely ignore the diligent efforts of the staff at Mocha to royally screw your evening.
Not having learned from previous experience I went there again this afternoon with a friend to muscle my way past the 4 o clock haze with some coffee. This visit was a fiasco. Again, after pondering for hours and discussing the finer culinary qualities of mint we decided what kind of caffeine we were going to choose only to be told by a guy who was half tuned out that it was not available. This rare variety of caffeinated beverage that we had had the nerve to demand; you will be surprised to know, was tea. Anyway, tenaciously, plan B was put into place and we ordered something else. Again forced to buy the mineral water. Then, my friend took a liking to the baked beans and asked if he could have a more generous helping. The waiter came back saying that it will have to be charged but the good part was that he would also get a lot of other useless crap with it that he hadnt asked for in the first place. We said never mind. The french fries that accompanied the dish could be counted on your fingertips and astonishingly, so could the baked beans. 49 to be exact. The french fries seemed like they had been picked off of a plate belonging to someone who had left a half hour ago. It was just awful. Then the bill was asked for, and it arrived what seemed like hours later with a mysterious “Berry Blast” added to it charged at Rs 185. Now, neither my friend nor I are in the habit of stirring 3-methyl-glucoaminiccyanide masquerading as berry extract into ice water and sipping it thoughtfully. So we said we hadnt had it. They then removed it without resistance … or explanation.
Having paid the bill I headed over to the manager to explain to him that though he was hell-bent on having me not return to the place I insisted on coming back because I liked the look and feel of the place so much so if he could stop being a total bitch about Rs 3.50 worth of baked beans then I was indeed happy to forget everything and return next week when my other best buddy gets into town so I can get his sanctimonious ass to do some Sheesha. The manager nodded that he will try his best. So, folks, with mind-boggling persistence, I will go back next week. Wish me luck.