The special 6th anniversary — Relationships, emotions & Starbucks…

We as humans have been hardwired to celebrate Anniversaries. Our mind typically gets triggered seeing the aged brown box of emotions, rusted with layers of pragmatism as the shine of novelty gets covered under the dust of lost time periods. The trigger, though defined at an annual frequency of 1, is sufficient enough to inspire us to scan the catalogue of our memories, select one of the most conveniently poignant ones and elevate it to grandness on the D day.

And make no mistake, the celebration is one of the most emotionally rationale one. It acknowledges the most important thread in our human minds- that of relationships! After all, relationships are built on moments crafted, memories retained and desires bundled to crave for more. And as we pause to celebrate anniversaries spanning our full control circle- relatives, friends, mentors, idols; we subconsciously also raise a toast to the most enduring relationships of our life- one between our mind & our time. It’s the most deceptive one. Think about it!

Amidst many such anniversaries, one of them is indeed very special to me. It doesn’t feature a particular person or one such emotion or a single occasion which changed my life. It probably has the twinkling set of sentiments which create an environment which lets me be myself! I call this environment a “galaxy”! A galaxy of unfettered emotions! A galaxy where I can walk in at any part of the day and in any mood! A galaxy which is non-judgemental and does not jump in to stamp my type. And this anniversary is the celebration of every moment with that galaxy! It’s the 6th anniversary of India’s first Starbucks- Starbucks Fort store in Horniman Circle Mumbai. Pardon me for quoting so many numerical milestones associated with it but the mathematician in me surfaces back again, as I write this in the very store. 6 is a magical number. The only number that is derived out of the sum and product of 3 consecutive numbers (1+2+3, 1x2x3). And this store brings in the same additive and multiplicative impact on me.

There is only one season here in this outlet. The season of warmth and genuineness. They call it as people’s 3rd place after home and work, but for me, it acts as a combination of all 3 at different moments. I rarely get the urge to segment my need to visit, as it is ever so mindfully natural and randomly obvious. The environment greets you! Yes there is the wonderful coffee; there are people and their expressions; the perfect ambience and the store’s arty décor- the signature jallis, the dome shaped curved walls — a shadow of the India Gate, the iron trunks, the jute bags filled with beans of heritage, the curved furniture, the rounded logs of tables, the eloquent railings- the list is endless. But there is something else which is beyond all of this. And that is felt every day I visit this place, and every moment I spend here.

The galaxy understands my emotions,

My unfathomable eyes,

When I am staring at the menu,

Lost in the stroll, heaving on my mind roads.

The barista across says naturally, ‘A short Americano having here but in a take away cup’.

It sounds familiarity,

It breaths comfort,

I nod my head & smile.

The stroll is paused for a moment.

As I witness the shot of espresso whistling down, I am instantly reminded about the last stream of my purest enthusiasm- the black ink in my pen and my latent love for poetry. Of course I wander back in the stroll on my mind roads but the spill of momentary nostalgia leaves a passionate after taste on my tongue. There are very few places which has the power to do this. And this is one of them! I don’t know what to call it- the first place, the second place or the third place. And hence I choose to call it my galaxy.

My galaxy understands my emotions,

My sluggish movement as I enter the outlet,

And straightway sit across on the left corner U shaped bucolic chair,

Overlooking the theatre outside,

The barista comes across smiling,

Inviting me to taste the new coffee,

Poured in sweet little mini cups,

Ushering in the importance of the fleeting mini moments,

Through the power of the simplest human expression- smile.

Smile, they say, is one of the toughest expressions to mechanize. Amidst the cacophony of the outside world, it emerges naturally from our silent spaces, effortlessly. You can fake it for a while but it can be easily deciphered. And it doesn’t sustain for long. The baristas here smile naturally with utmost genuineness as one can imagine. Think of it, they encounter similar humane shapes, similar segmented gestures, similar tasks and similar routines. There is the stalactite of mundanity and stalagmite of procedures in the path traversed. One can easily fall in the trap! Yet they steam such honest pitchers of feelings, pull out the perfect shot of commitment and pour the sweetest portion of happiness to brew the cup of life that represents YOU in that very moment. Yes this can be taught once but can only be mastered if one is thoughtfully authentic about it. That’s the POWER of this galaxy — this place- the people here. They are amazingly genuine, expressive, thoughtful and optimistic.

This particular outlet is indeed special. It has the power to peep into my heart and find me places where I can be reflective and playful with my emotions. For ecstasy, it takes me through the grand stairway to the first floor balcony railings overlooking the magic of fervour unfolding down below. I smile as I look cups being made again and again and being connected with the same passion repeatedly. For introspection, it guides me to the low seats beside the big window wherein the sunlight plays hide and seek with me through the maroonish artful curtains, rekindling the highs and lows of my life. For intimacy, it steers me to the inside section which has that king-size chair enabling me to romanticize with my own inherent latent dreams. For disappointment, it escorts me to the long stool beside the coffee making machine, enabling me to witness the rainbow of the colourful bliss and feeling the taste of the most veracious but hidden little spurts of joy midst the storm of sadness.

As I once again walked in the Starbucks Fort store on 19th October 2018, I was given my usual Americano in the white take away cup, but with a message scribbled on it- “Thank you for your love and support”. Surely it was the 6th anniversary, celebration time, moment to revisit the journey but did it need me to open the catalogue of my memories here and choose the most cherished one? Maybe not as my galaxy has so many stars twinkling and winking daily bringing me closer to myself. But yes, the anniversary did enable me to pause and reflect back on this relationship through my latent passionate love- romanticizing with words! And yes I did sit on the orange pinkish king-size chair, hidden in the oblivion of shadows, writing this. Happy 6th Starbucks Fort!

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Adrit Mishra

When statistics & management insights transcends into philosophical, introspective & poetic ones