It was a one of a kind concept at the time.
Narayan was just back from his summer in London and was speaking to Hardeep, his school time flame about what he had picked up this time.
“They love their literature! Books are as popular as tea! I can only dream of so much access to books for the masses here” he lamented.
“Well,” suggested Hardeep, “Maybe you can bring that access to everyone. You know you have the resources.”
Her beautiful hazel eyes gazed straight into his, almost pouring her positivity into him. He looked at the banks of the Yamuna, the flowing calm it exuded mirrored his inner self. Narayan was the calmest of his hot headed family of Punjabi businessmen. They refused to hand over control of the “Nagar Palika” to him. It was, after all, the most popular garments store in Khan Market and they were just against his cool headed ways of handling situations. His love for books was, but a turn off for all of them. It isn’t unlikely, they said. However, Narayan was of the opinion that he could transform books into one of the biggest businesses ever but they just wouldn’t hear of it.
He returned Hardeep’s gaze and said,
“Wait. I could. Why don’t I combine the two things I love the most?”
“Books and me?”
He laughed and said, “You don’t need to be combined with anything, love. You’re perfect just the way you are.”
She slipped her hand into his and rubbed her thumb in little circles. He loved it when she did that. He continued, “Books and coffee.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll sell coffee to people but I’ll give them access to books to read. As many as they can.”
Her eyes brightened. She exclaimed, “We could have couches! The ones with foot rests?”
“Oh my! Yes! I could get a supply of coffee beans from South India. We can start with ground coffee!” She hurriedly opened her bag and pulled out a notebook. She started drawing out a room with a couch in a corner and beautiful bookcase to its left. Narayan watched as she sketched the place of his dreams and before he knew it, it had turned into reality within the next year.
Within a year, Narayan’s place of dreams had taken shape in reality. As he brought in the first shelf of books with his wife, Hardeep, they rejoiced. He’d taken out a huge loan to buy a small place in one of the upcoming neighbourhoods in Delhi, Khan Market. They knew the hard times they would soon face, but Sukhbir, Narayan’s only living parent appeared to give his blessing.
Slowly, The Blue Blood gained popularity amongst students at the University of Delhi. Narayan filtered his books just like he filtered his coffee.
The best of beans with the best of books.
He would source his books from the bestseller lists of New York, London and Paris. The mahogany shelves soon became the favourites of the elite. High society book clubs started forming and soon enough, coffee gained popularity in Delhi.
By this time, The Blue Blood was the hub of intellectuals and a popular place for Sunday debates amongst Delhi’s elite over his famous cup of coffee.
With time, the cafe transformed but Narayan’s love for coffee grew. It had given him a livelihood and purpose.
At the start of the new millennia, his first grandson, Karan was born. Little Karan was obviously grandpa’s favourite but as he grew older, he morphed into a younger version of Narayan in more ways than one could see.
At the age of 2, he would jump up to the counter with his little wobbly legs, pressing buttons on the cash register. Narayan loved babysitting him and taught him to read.
In turn, Karan recognised his grandpa’s love for the iconic beverage and would bring him his morning cup with a book on a small silver tray. A small one because that’s the only one his little 5 year old hands could handle. It was Narayan’s favourite wake up call. He would take the cup from the tiny hands and Karan would jump into the bed.
While he sipped his coffee, he would teach Karan to read. Starting with the alphabet up to the Grimm’s fairy tales. The little 5 year old could soon read and understand all of the fairytales.
The tradition stayed until one morning, Karan woke up late.
The little child rushed to the kitchen and hurriedly asked their household help, Nina to make grandpa’s morning coffee. He stared at her face as she lifted him onto the counter with sad eyes and tried to say that she couldn’t make the coffee. He threw a tantrum.
Finally, Nina made the coffee and gave it to him. Karan rushed towards his grandpa’s room but stopped in the living room. Grandpa Narayan was lying there instead of his bed. He was confused.
Why is Grandpa covered in a white sheet? His father tried to pull him away as he pulled out the cotton buds in his nose.
“Dad! He won’t be able to breathe!”
His father was dumbfounded and tried to pull the child away but he insisted on waking him up.
“Grandpa, it’s time to wake up. I brought your morning coffee. I’m sorry I’m late.”