MES­SAGE IN A BOT­TLE

The Sto­ry­tellers Bar, Pondicherry

India Today - - COVER STORY -

One half nos­tal­gia mixed with one quar­ter his­tory, topped up with mem­o­ries and stirred with a dash of whimsy; The Sto­ry­tellers’ Bar is a cock­tail of words, sounds and images. Deep in the cav­ernous belly of the Prom­e­nade, a col­lec­tive of sto­ries wo­ven around the magic of Pondicherry lives and breathes in a spe­cial cu­rated space where evenings are given over to the flow of soul and the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of spir­its. And who bet­ter than the son of the soil, Hidesign founder Dilip Ka­pur to or­ches­trate this move­ment. Ka­pur got to­gether with Sim­ran Mulchan­dani of Blue Frog and de­signer Ayaz Bas­rai of The Bus­ride to rope in Kapil Thir­wani of Munro Acous­tics.

As you de­scend the one floor stair­case to the bar, the neck cranes up­wards to the arched ceil­ing lined with open books that sym­bol­ise sto­ry­telling. Tra­di­tional ox­ide floor­ing in blue is used as makeup for the walls with old type­writ­ers as in­stal­la­tions. The Wall of Sto­ries— the main fea­ture of the bar—is a can­vas painted with a va­ri­ety of mem­o­ra­bilia, sto­ries, anec­dotes, props and ar­ti­cles about Pondicherry. Here you will dis­cover the pagla sadhu, a Bos­ton Brah­min

who was a favourite of The Mother (Mirra Al­fassa) but chose to live on a snake-in­fested is­land, of the Mother’s tal­ents as a per­fumer, of the tri­als and tri­umphs of the ‘Take what you need, give what you can’ dic­tum of Auroville.

The French-Tamil menu is a lov­ing ode to lo­cal or­ganic pro­duce, whether it’s the de­light­ful cheeses, the fra­grant seed breads or the mud crabs. The cock­tails have been crafted with a sim­i­lar passion for source lo­cal, serve global. Both the or­ganic Piroshka and the choco­late fil­ter Kaapi are dis­turbingly de­li­cious. The lat­ter, a deca­dent com­bine of Kahlua, whisky, lo­cal choco­late and es­presso, is served in the tra­di­tional dabara. Nos­tal­gia is a dish best served with mu­sic and this is where magic hap­pens when part of the bar morphs into a per­for­mance space for wan­der­ing min­strels, jazz bands, book read­ings and even so­lil­o­quies. Fresh as mint (it’s only about a month old), the bar rep­re­sents not just the past but the promise of Pondicherry. by Chumki Bharad­waj

Tel: 0 413 222 7750

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