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For Wodehouse, Chaplin and coffee

AS YOU stroll in to this retreat, it is not just the orange walls that grab your attention. Something here entices you to pull up a chair, sip a steaming cappuccino, browse through a book, and watch your favourite film. Not surprising, it's christened Leisure Hours, a library-cafe, inspired by foreign bookstores such as Barnes & Noble. Just off Airport Road, Leisure Hours offers a book, VCD, and DVD library, a home theatre club, and an espresso bar — all in one cozy hideout.

The books, on shelves spanning the length of a wall, cover a wide area of popular interest. International and Indian bestsellers, cookbooks and travel guides, a book or two on sport and philosophy, imported magazines, and of course, children's literature, are all on the menu.

The collection, though not extensive, contains the essentials — the classics, the P.G. Wodehouses, and a few other big names.

The movie section is not just impressive, but rapidly growing too. The section houses a collection that extends through English and Hindi films, say from Charlie Chaplin comedies to commercial Bollywood hits. And one finds that none of them are pirated.

The home theatre system with surround sound, and a looming eight-foot-by-six-foot screen, is used to screen movies on request during weekends or to watch international events.

The cafe soon plans to quadruple this collection.

Inaugurated on May 15, Leisure Café already has a 60-strong membership, one that consists mainly of executives from MNCs, and large corporate houses, a section they intend to stick to. With a reasonable registration fee of Rs. 500, and an annual fee of Rs. 500, membership here would allow you to borrow books, VCDs and DVDs, and get a 10 per cent discount on any buy, be it a book, CD, or coffee from the bar.

"As of now, we will close at a membership of 250-300 members," says Subhash Mahbubani, one of the directors.

The cafe also plans to expand in terms of space and ability to accommodate, sometime in the near future.

Word of mouth being their publicity mode, Leisure Hours is completely "member driven", which means demand dictates any event occurring here. So much so, if you want a book the store does not possess, simply ask and your needs will be catered to within a few days.

The cafe, Gulu Assomul (also a director), tells us "caters exclusively to the continental palate".

With imported French fries, coffees and recipes, the menu is quite what you might find elsewhere. With a few originals like puff pizza, the rest are the standard pastas and sandwiches.

Satisfying in terms of taste and portions, a lunch here would cost an average of Rs. 100 to Rs. 150. The three sections blend well with each other, supported by a peaceful ambience, and some easy listening music.

Perfect for an evening-out, to relax and unwind, and quite a family entertainment centre, Leisure Hours has a warm, exclusive feel, and is literally tailor-made to suit the desires of its members.

Apart from being reasonably priced, this library cafe has a little of something for almost everybody, bookworms, food lovers, or movie buffs.

It is open from 10 a.m. to10 p.m., on weekdays and weekends.

For details, contact 5097707.

MONISHA VARADAN

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