Now that I am here and will be here for three weeks, I have decided that I may as well educate myself about the heritage and history of this place. And so now I am armed with a book – Seattle- Yesterday & Today, written by J Kingston Pierce who must be the local Muthiah. And his book is very interesting.
My brother-in-law informs me that while Boeing and Microsoft are the best known business enterprises to be headquartered here, some other well-known names are also based here – Starbucks, Amazon, Nordstrum. And so he took us all, en famille, to see the place where Starbucks began. “You will not be impressed,” he said, knowing my predilection for Ionic/Tuscan/Doric/Corinthian columns, pediments, gargoyles and dormer windows. The Adi Starbucks if I can call it that is just that – a Starbucks outlet but with a slightly rustic feel.
It is located close to what is called Pike Place market, the local equivalent of the Thanneer Thurai, a market built in 1907 (shortly before the Mylapore version), along the Western Avenue, by the shore of Puget Sound. The Market, like our Thanneer Thurai faced demolition in 1971 by which time the area had become an upmarket business district. But saner counsels prevailed and since then over $ 50 million have been spent in restoring it. It is today a fish and flowers place (what a combo) and is a delight. And as for Thanneer Thurai, alas where are we?
To come back to Starbucks, it began here in 1971 and from here it has now spread to over 43 countries. I, who am sadly a former coffee drinker, can however say that Saravana or now Adayar Ananda Bhawan can beat all the flavours of Starbucks hollow. But still, it was an experience going there. Outside, road-side musicians were strumming instruments and singing. Inside, it was business as usual. The place was rendered more impressive by the presence of a Greek Orthodox father. “See the Sannidhanam is here,” I told my sons in jest. “Go get his blessings.” And it is only in USA that you can encounter such friendliness for in response to our curious looks, he came over and patted my shoulder. “Are these your sons?” he asked. To my saying yes, he smiled and said that they will grow up to be fine young men. It was a good beginning I must say.