Kashmir nightlife's one-stop 'Coffea Arabica' shut for week now
For the past one week, Kashmir's most favourite post-sundown haunt 'Coffea Arabica', the coffee shop behind return of night life to the Valley amid raging militancy, is shut following its failure to meet the pollution control guidelines laid by the state government.india Updated: Nov 28, 2013 18:54 IST
For the past one week, Kashmir's most favourite post-sundown haunt 'Coffea Arabica', the coffee shop behind return of night life to the Valley amid raging militancy, is shut following its failure to meet the pollution control guidelines laid by the state government.
The notice 'Hotel has suspended commercial activities till further notice' hung at the roadside restaurant of the Broadway Hotel located on Srinagar's Maulana Azad Road has coffee regulars - which include top politicians, journalists, writers, businessmen and commoners - disappointed and without a cozy place to spend long winter evenings.
"There are a fewer places to chit chat after the sunset in Srinagar. Coffea Arabica, of late, has become a place to do politics over the cup of coffee. Our party leaders would thrash out serious issues till late in the evening," said Zeeshan Pandit, district president of the Awami Itehad Party (AIP), headed by firebrand MLA engineer Rashid.
Srinagar is without a press club ever since the militancy erupted in 1989. The coffee joint, however, became a popular place for young journalists, even for those who come from the outside to cover the major incidents of Kashmir.
From Kashmir's top political family Abdullahs to actor Tina Ambani to NDTV's Barkha Dutt to author Basharat Peer, the coffee shop played a host to who's who of the Valley and the outside till November 22.
The Broadway Hotel was among 85 top hotels closed down by the administration in Srinagar city following the high court order to suspend commercial activities of those not having a sewerage treatment plant last week. Most of the national television channels were housed in these hotels and are looking for fresh spaces.
The coffee shop, however, had become a permanent feature of the daily life for several people in Srinagar like Irfan Hassan, a reader and a close friend of poet Agha Shahid Ali. Hassan had to leave his new book 'Return of the King' half way as the shop closed.
"I read the first 60 pages of the book at the coffee shop only when it was open. In the morning, autumn sunlight would directly fall inside the shop. I, like many others, would read books at the shop. Besides, it is one stop where one would know what was happening around us," Hassan said.
During the harsh militancy period when people would return home before the sunset, the coffee shop was featured by national newspapers and magazines for being the first outlet to slowly bring nightlife back to Srinagar. Also, it introduced a variety of coffee to coffee connoisseurs of the valley.
Besides, the shop, of late, is known for being a hub of political gossip and even book readings at times.
But frequent visitors like Pandit and Hassan feel that the hotel should address the environmental concerns as soon as possible.
"The hotel should abide by the guidelines laid down by the authorities to stop any kind of pollution. We cannot compromise on that," Hassan said.
His views are seconded by AIP leader Pandit. "The hotel being the oldest in Srinagar should become a role model for others by setting up the state of the art and environment-friendly sewerage treatment," Pandit said.
It's learnt that the hotel management is awaiting fresh court orders and the government intervention in the matter to reopen the coffee shop, which till recently used to witnesses the highest number of footfall.
Caption: National Conference patron and union minister for new and renewable energy Farooq Abdullah leaving the coffee shop in a file photo.