April 19, 2008

Woodlands Drive-In & Coffee?

Should we mourn the demise of Woodlands Drive-In restaurant or should we make an effort to ensure it continues to function?
Many people may wonder why we should get worked up about the closure of a restaurant.
After all, businesses open and close every day in a city like ours.
So why get worked up at all?
And why should we talk for Woodies?
Woodlands Drive-in, located in the wooded, 320 grounds on Cathedral Road off Gemini Circle had to close down last week after the state won a legal case and can now take charge of this prime land worth Rs.1000 crores.
The state plans to create a Lalbagh of Bangalore in this area and this is indeed a positive step.
The state also asked the restaurant to close shop. The management of Woodlands has taken its case to court.
Setting all this aside, why then would some of us still want the Drive-in to be given a new lease of life?
Because it has been such an integral part of the lives of thousands of people.
Since the 1960s, people have come here for its 'Udupi' food. Some adored the channa batura, some craved for the crispy, hot bondas and some had to have its masala dosas.
It wasn't just the food that endeared people. It was the atmosphere. The sprawling woods, the facility to just drive in and be served while you were still lolling in your car, the 'self service' hall where salesmen, club members, creative heads, lovers, students and activists had a meeting place they could call their own.
That is why Woodlands Drive-in was special. And that is why places like these are a part of social heritage.
Times change. Priorities change. And it may not even be practical to conserve such places that make our lives, our histories.
But we should spare a thought for them.
On the other side of town, 'Coffee?' became a part of the lives of hundreds of young people. It was a nook in the wall but it was so warm that many people stopped by to unwind here with a cuppa and sandwiches.
When this coffee place in Raja Annamalaipuram shut shop this week to make way for real estate development, there were many people who felt they were losing something that was a part of their lives.

1 comment:

Denkali said...

In the name of progress and urbanisation, we destroy one landmark after another, one memory after another until we are left with nothing to claim as our past in an uncertain today with no clear vision of the future.

Will the government's promise to turn the Drive-in campus into a garden come true in the near future? I doubt that very much. Given the state of our legal system, a protracted legal battle is a certainty. Until that is sorted out, stay after stay will ensure that the plan will find no traction. Moreover, if the government changes, what happens to the plan?

Let us also spare a thought for the employees of the restaurant. Several of them are from out of state and have been working in Madras for years. What do they do for their livelihood now? Isn't a business establishment that offers employment not deserving of some benefits?

C'est la vie.