I’m mourning. Not for a person, but for a place. The place isn’t dead yet, I just know it’s decaying.
I think it’s been four years since “Icon Club” opened in Yeshwantpur Industrial Area. Since this was the closest proper pub to where I live, I decided to give a try and found the place to be great. In fact, it was one of the best pubs in the city, with great rock music from 60s-80s alternating with some electronic, a dim lit ambience and well chosen, well thought out colour scheme – Black, Red and Incandescent light.
Large canvas reprints of portraits of some royal scions adorned the walls on one side. Iconic people including Marlon Brando’s Godfather were aptly placed on the other. The choice of every single piece of the pub spoke a lot about the taste the owner had including the menu design and the menu itself. When I went there the first time, although the place was a little expensive for a new pub in a non-commerical locality, I decided that this is the pub I want to be visiting when I’m 60. You know.. Walk in, wave at a couple of people there, sit in your regular table, the waiter knows exactly what you want and the bartender knows how you want it. It was my dream.
I actually saw those days. People there had grown friendly with me, we used to have long conversations. In fact, I had once spent close to 8 hours sitting in the pub, developing my own cocktail recipes. The bartenders Kiran and Nandu knew my tastes and choices. The floor manager had once accommodated us only because I was a known person there, he was turning away other customers because some company had booked the whole place for themselves. I wasn’t a successful businessman or a real estate goon for them to treat me that way. I was just a regular customer who was friendly and polite, tipped decently and never created a ruckus. I only expected a little out of the way service and they always gave me just that.
I went there today after a really long time. The last time I went there was probably 8-9 months ago. A ban on pubs located on highways had forced Icon along with thousand others in the country to shut shop. I too stayed away from drinking because of a fitness regime.
So today when I went to the place I felt alien. The menu card had changed, it was a clumsy, colorful large laminated handout. The place hardly had any customers in there. The waiters had changed, the bartenders I knew were no longer working there and even the floor managers I knew weren’t to be seen anywhere. The items on the menu had changed and I could no longer order my regulars. Even the variety of liquor that they served had gone down.
I couldn’t even prepare my special cocktail. They did prepare one for me as per my demands, without making a fuss, but there was no friendliness, no personal touch. It was almost like these new guys didn’t feel that the place was their own.
The ban had surely hurt the place. Business at Icon had never picked up as much, but it wasn’t bad either. They had ensured the food quality and service remained top notch through these years. I used to talk about the food to the chef Norman and it used to be great. He used to take my feedbacks well and also ensure we got what we wanted.
Although the place didn’t have any heritage attached to it, forty years down the lane it could have been a landmark pub. People like me would walk into the pub as old men, sharing stories with other old and young friends. Sadly, it doesn’t look like the place will last that long.
It’s almost like a friend has just died, I’m mourning.