Not everyone has their life figured out all the time. So what do we do when everything seems too much when we just want a break from life, from work, from everything? I, for one, have nothing together. I am always juggling, running behind NCC, Hackathons, and trying to have a social life while my CGPA falls like Humpty Dumpty on the wall. I can confidently say that it has been three years since I took a peaceful break, and can say, "I've finished all my work for now". Of course, I am not saying I did not take any breaks, but every break I took was at the cost of the next deadline and was laced with a guilt that prevented me from ever enjoying a break, a holiday, or a day off fully.
I live in a bustling suburb called Pammal. Sort of near the Chennai airport, but not really. Hot and smoky and half an hour away from every single point in the city, even the next area. It's as if God plucked out all the traces of soothing nature from the area and replaced it with traffic, dogs, and people, in that order. Having moved here from the lush green suburb of Adyar, you can imagine how that would make me feel. I always feel suffocated by the very locality I live in, the smoke, the dogs (which I am deathly scared of), and of course, the bloody traffic.
I am a self-professed bibliophile. I find solace and comfort in immersing myself in books; I find myself when lost in the pages of a novel. With the bustle of the usual Indian household, and the noises of the street constantly interrupting my reverie, my usual reading rhythm and speed are greatly disturbed, and I lapse into the sly traps of my screens, binging on YouTube and Netflix until my eyes curse me, and I return to work, feeling somehow worse than when I began chilling.
All that changed when I discovered Sankar Nagar, a small area WITHIN my already small area. Covered in trees, sparsely populated (at least, relatively). Within that little piece of green heaven, there was a little pitstop of sorts, Navarasa, the cutest (and only) cafe within miles. I quickly discovered that it was one that was scantly visited, thanks to a disconnect between the populace of Pammal and the demographic it was trying to serve. It would've probably been a hit somewhere north of Guindy, but in an area like Pammal wherein the maximum amount spent by people on snacks would be Rs 50 for chat, it remained relatively unknown, and unable to thrive. Somehow that made it all the more appealing for me. Navarasa was and is a little bubble of solitude that provides me a safe haven from the hustle and bustle of Pammal, it is also the only place I can get waffles anywhere nearby.
Therapy is expensive. And I most certainly need it, thanks to the trauma that is Engineering. So whenever things are too much, I pick up my trusty Activa, and escape the confines of society, rushing to the bubble that is Navarasa; often, I am the only customer, and the staff knows me. They are quite friendly, and I am the proud recipient of a promotional combo that has long been discontinued for others. I pick the very last, secluded table, and order my usual, the waffle (oreo) milkshake (Nutella) combo, with a side of peri peri fries, just so that I can relish the sweetness of the waffle and milkshake separately. The service is really slow, in fact, infuriatingly slow that it has often been the cause of fights between the staff and many a customer. But not me. I prefer it that way. I sit in my spot, slipping between pages, navigating the world of the Grisha in Shadow and Bone, regaling in the adventures of Narasimha in Kevin Missal's trilogy, or reading the goosebump-inducing account of why Philip Knight started Nike. I am lost in my own world, just flipping through pages as my favorites are served for me to relish. That is my kind of therapy. And it's awesome.
Fig 3,Fig4: Photo by Sriram R M