Few weeks back I was reunited with Starbucks. And here is the story.
Way back in 2001, I was a FOB ( Fresh out of the Boat ), in Louisiana State University ( LSU ), Baton Rouge. While roaming around the campus I came across this Coffee shop in the campus Bookshop which was serving coffee at 4$. And it had a funny name - Starbucks.
Right opposite it was McDonalds - and for 4.5$ I could get a good filling burger, french fries and a large coke drink - enough for that day's hunger needs. ( it was 2001 - I was still young and was burning Bank of India loan money and was in the midst of an economic downturn in my life. ). I added a mental note to check this coffee shop someday.
I don't remember when I had my first cuppa - would be after I got an assistantship most probably - but for a coffee addict the taste and caffeine kick was out of the world. I remember I had a Caramel Frappuccino and it had stayed from that day since as my favourite.
Much later, in 2006 when I started work at ThoughtWorks, Chicago, when I stepped out of the train station there was a Starbucks. It became my daily ritual to pick up a Grande Non-Fat Cappuccino - yes I became health conscious and reserved Frappuccino for those special occasions. After a few days ( or weeks ), the Barristas knew my pattern and the moment they saw me enter the door, they will immediately place an order. I will join the queue and by the time I reached the cash register, the drink will be ready and I will get it in my hand immediately ( other muggles had to wait for their drink after paying!).
Forgot to mention - everywhere I went they will have problem calling out my name or writing it on the cup - Venkat was so difficult for Americans to pronounce!
Then in mid 2006 we moved back to India ( http://kvrlogs.blogspot.in/2006/06/moving-back-to-india.html ). Starbucks was #10 in the list of things I missed the most. Perhaps I can strike it out now.
Every time when I got into a CCD or a Barista - I would wonder - when will Starbucks come to India. Sometime in December 2011 I read a news item that Starbucks in Partnership with Tata is coming to India.
Later I read the first Starbucks is to open in Mumbai in October 2012. I was even more excited - as I am in Mumbai now.
I could not go to the first day opening show - but went on the 2nd week. Took a train from Kandivali to Churchgate ( 1+ hours ), was a nice 20minutes walk from Churchgate to Fort, stood in line and ordered - you can guess it - a Caramel Frappuccino. Waited for the drink to arrive - the Barristas this time had no problem calling out my name.
Sangeeta found a table and chair in the mezzannine floor. Settled down and took the first sip after so many years.