A Day In Starbucks India


My favourite part about Starbucks india? Unlike the US counterpart, the Indian staff gets my name right. No longer am I “Nicole” or “Newper”. I am "Nupur". Not only do they just spell or say it right--, hello, they REMEMBER my name! -- I am a familiar customer who they greet by name.


Starbucks India is considered an expensive hangout for the the rich-- youngsters post pictures of starbucks coffee on the 'gram to show off their visit. But I don't like the coffee at Starbucks India. It tastes more sour than bitter, and I often ask for an extra shot of coffee in the milk. The local Indian filter coffee is way better-- so why do I come here?


This is the only cafe you can patter away at your laptop and they don't kick you out and they don’t stare.



PEOPLE WHO COME TO STARBUCKS INDIA


But I do. I stare. I stare at the people around me and I wonder-- what must they be coming for? The fair foreigners, who are here for the comfort of a familiar name, and the promise of a standard. Many elite-- Indian men wearing expensive watches and the rich Delhi ladies with LV bags. I’ve even seen a family come for an arranged marriage meetup-- the family on the couch while the boy and girl moved to a corner desk to talk.


Friday night at this Starbucks, is live music with a guy on a guitar, who starts with " I’m singing Eric Clapton. Would you knowwww my nameee? coz I...coz I." and stops to fumble over his phone for the lyrics. But he’s smiling, so I laugh and give him a silent clap that he acknowledges with a dimpled smile and an eye wink.

But the most common visitors here are Indian (mostly men!) for business meetings and the workers-- people like me who come in and occupy a good corner in the coffee shop and sit, for the promise of not being bothered for the next infinite time they are choosing to sit there.


I EAVESDROP


I can’t help listening in. Why would I not? That guy with a virat-koli-beard, sitting near me is telling a woman "...and he tore... tore half his hamstring". I pause from tapping at my laptop to look at the ceiling (which aids my thinking)-- half a hamstring? Is that a new thing to happen these days? Shrug. I then notice the group of 7 young men (classmates from an IIT I'm sure, a conclusion derived from their, um, confident swagger), dragging their chairs back in unison, standing up, to greet a man who looks exactly like an older version of them with "Sir, thank you for making it" and a little while later "Sir, our market target is the same as mumble and their competitors are weak".

Meanwhile, a girl comes in, to ‘suplise!’ her waiting friend, and I am watching the long hug they give each other-- I calculated-- I would have terminated the hug at 3 seconds-- she was at 9 seconds, too long for even my watching comfort. I take a sip of my coffee.


ORDERING IS A NIGHTMARE


I find the act of choosing coffee at Starbucks, paralyzing. Hot white chocolate mocha or a Cold frappuccino with soy milk, hazelnut flavour or flavour of the season toffee nut crunch? While I’m ordering, Starbucks lady is standing over my shoulder and shouting in my ear “Try now! Or the season will be-- ovah!”. Yea! What if the season gets over and I can't taste the other choices? I cringe with too much pressure to try, and end up ordering my usual -- the Latte!


A TRICK IN THE PRICING


The menu in Indian starbucks has made me think about prices-- the difference between choices is not mere cents anymore, but with 3 cheaper drinks, I can fund a rickshaw ride!

The other day, I caught a trick in the menu, and let me share that with you: It will save you… wait for it, 10 rupees! “Season special this time is Mocha Praline. This retails for ₹ 270 -- It is the same as buying a Latte (₹ 170) + chocolate flavour (+₹ 45) + nut flavour (+₹ 45)? This adds to ₹ 260! They are charging Rs 10 for saying the words 'mocha praline' !


LOCALIZED EXPERIENCE


The written menu at the Indian Starbucks has played safe. The menu has not been written in chalk, but is printed on paper.. Bowww-rrrring! It makes me feel as though some executive didn’t trust them to chalk the menu or what? The accessories in this shop have an INDIA Cup (with India gate on it, and not taj mahal, finally, stop the taj mahal craze please!). This place has a US-style decor but a graffiti of “COFFEE OK PLEASE” gives it an Indian flavour. Other than these variations, this cafe could have been in any part of the world.


Now, Let me get back to my work of peeking a bit-- the guy near me is writing a ‘Startup Plan’.

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