The last news on Café Coffee Day Founder VG Siddhartha is that he was found dead nearly two days after he went missing. Yesterday, the police recovered his body in Netravati River near Mangalore.
Its been a while since I thought of CCD, mostly because we have a Starbucks at every corner of this city. But if you’ve had your teens and twenties in India, a rush of feelings comes with this news. Café Coffee Day was truly the brand that brought ‘coffee culture’ to the peninsula. Before that ‘coffee shop’ meant the places in five-star hotels which serve 24/7. And then there was Barista in the metros – which at the time felt like it was for the elite few. It was only when Café Coffee Day opened its doors to Indian metros and tier-two cities, that the common man learned the difference between an espresso, mocha and latte.
It was ‘the spot’ for youngsters on pocket monies and internship stipends. Couples could buy a cup of coffee and hold hands for hours in a space that quickly became a legit location for dates. Starbucks is still far from that reach into all of India.
I remember the CCD next to my house in Bombay was the last place I visited, a day before I left to come to Hong Kong. It was quick and convenient to catch up with my best friend from school. And it incidentally became a reunion as we bumped into a couple of other school friends there.
Another day that my mind pulled out of the memory bag was when my husband, 6-month old son and I were visiting family in Surat (Gujarat), we had one afternoon by ourselves to explore the city. We stumbled upon a CCD and instantly decided to have our coffees and some bites. It was the only place I trusted to serve me ‘my cup of coffee’ – a familiar place in a city that was rather new to me. My little boy was also happy there, though all he had was the formula I carried for him!
VG Siddhartha’s news is heartbreaking. As I browsed through posts and messages, I came upon a meme. Yes meme, because social media can be cruel sometimes. It said – ‘the guy who made people drink coffee got scared of loans and committed suicide but the guy who made people drink alcohol bravely ran away’!! No, he ran away shamelessly. Running away is never brave. Nor is suicide. It must be a sad and lonely place when life makes you feel that ending it is the only option. R.I.P. VG Siddhartha.
Let’s never stop meeting friends for that heart-to-heart at cafes. It helps in surviving those rough patches of life. As CCD says, ‘a lot can happen over coffee’.