Food for thought

Stephen Neil Gershom
NSoJ Bureau
The concept of hanging out which changed over the last few years led to the opening of some real cool hangouts in Bengaluru. National School of Journalism’s new video series, ‘What’s the buzz’ focuses on such cool hangouts which offer
unique experiences and some unusual fare.
For our first episode of What’s the buzz, we visited Hillstation café in Kothanur in north east Bangalore. The café is
frequented not just by students of nearby colleges, but also residents of the area and also those who drop in to get a
feel of the new landmark. Hillstation’s popularity can be gauged from the fact that many come here time and again.
Somewhere in that transition from hanging out at restaurants and coffee shops over a cup of coffee or some street-side
pani-puri joints, to the new age cafés today, the raw appeal of hangout spots seems to have been lost. What once used to
be a fun, no-care-about-the-world time with friends has now become an expensive and sophisticated affair. This is
evident from the fact that the costs have gone up. The owners squarely blame the same on the sky rocketing rents,
increase in salaries and other overheads.
Hillstation café though does well in retaining that raw appeal that seems to have been lost with most modern cafés.
Located on K Narayanapura main road, in what used to be a sleepy part of town called Kothanur, the café is marked by a
signboard uniquely held in place by huge logs of wood. A small, cosy café and kitchen with both indoor and outdoor
sitting areas lets one have a peaceful time. It gets even better when you’re with a group of friends. The tables and
seats are made out of wooden planks and bolstered by bamboo. The outdoor sitting area has the cover of a cherry tree,
and the area is surrounded by planks of wood which offers privacy. It felt as though we were in the lap of nature while
binging on some great American food.
Hillstation serves only American fare and as Daniel, an employee at the café said, the idea was to introduce some popular American snacks like choco chip cookies and cinnamon roll. “People love the Pancakes, Nachos, Brownie shake and
cherry cola the most as these are the most wanted”, he added.
The chilled out ambience of the café allowed us to have a discussion with a few youngsters. The topic for discussion
though, was not as chilled out.
Recently a 24-year-old boy from Bengaluru studying in a prestigious Mumbai college committed suicide by jumping from the 19th floor of Hotel Taj Land’s End in Mumbai. What is more disturbing though, is the fact that he went live on Facebook, engaging his viewers on how to commit suicide the right way and the video went viral.
At the interaction, we wanted to engage those huddled at Hillstation to air their views on the startling rise in suicides and why depression is being made to look cool.

“Depression used to be a taboo, but now it has come out in the open. People need to open up and talk about it. The very fact that he went live on Facebook shows how big a problem it is,” said Akshay, a student.

George, who is also a student had a different view and felt that the celebrities openly saying that they went through depression just glamourises the same. Joan agreed that the word depression is used very loosely these days and felt that professional help is definitely needed.

Stanley D Boyd, the owner of Hillstation café said, “People need real friends who can accept you as you are. The 24-year-old might have been alive today if he had a real friend to speak to, instead of Facebook. People need to slow down in life and start caring for others”, he quipped.
Coming back to his outlet, Hillstation, he said “I’m not in the business to make money. I’m here to improve people’s
lives by offering a warm and homely place to unwind and have been trying to do so with my employees by helping them
develop holistically.”
If you are in and around Hennur, Kothanur or Jakkur, and are looking to having a relaxed time over authentic American food, well you should definitely head out to Hillstation café.

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