For these individuals, cafés are social observatories of the world, a place of refuge and an environment in which to think about the world and humanity. Contrary to what you may think, it’s not isolation that these people crave, it’s that feeling of seclusion amongst the crowd that is so desirable. These are the sort of places Hemingway describes in his biographical work ‘A Moveable Feast’. Those urban Parisian cafés allowed Hemingway the chance to pen out some his most brilliant lines, whilst sipping on a Café Crème.
For others, the opportunity to meet odd like-minded folk, whilst watching the world go by, breaks the monotony of their solitude. One might recall Sartre’s protagonist in Nausea, who uses the café as an opportunity to confront the existential dilemmas he faces, whilst also continuing an ongoing fling with the Patron (owner).
Cinnabon certainly has no heritage or history of such kind, but it’s location right in the middle of a busy Mumbai mall couldn’t provide a better “window of the world” to appropriate the name of a famous top story restaurant in London’s fashionable west end (Hilton Park Lane). This Cinnabon has no demarcation between mall and café and shoppers brush past inhaling the sweet aromas of oven baked pastry (on-site baking is admirable in such tight kitchen space)
Whilst I wallow away a Sunday, amidst this new age hub of materialism, an ex on her weekly shopping rounds spots me from afar. It’s an awkward exchange but unlike going to a club or bar alone, no one seems to reprimand a gentleman for sitting alone in a café. I’m reminded of those numerous single men, however depraved they maybe, sitting unquestioned in those Parisian cafés; those very men who are able to extend that 1 euro Petit Noir (espresso) for an eternity.
The food and drink is of trivial concern here of course and of little consequence. The motion of dunking soft, stodgy, cinnamon-dusted danish-like pastry into a large cup of milky hot chocolate is, nevertheless, a comforting experience and can be seen as the Americanized version of the chocolat chaud and flaky croissant combination that I miss the most (maybe even the only thing) about Paris.
So if time is not of the essence and devilish pastries are not a constraint, pull up a Cinnabon pew and enjoy watching the world pass by…