During my recent visit to Fort Cochin, I chanced upon the best library I’ve ever been to or could have imagined at the Pepper House Café. A serendipitious search for my afternoon coffee led me there.
Much like the town of Fort Kochi, Pepper House Café is located in a narrow lane next to the main jetty on Kalmavathi Road. The Café is actually an old bungalow-like structure with a central courtyard and the sea at its backyard.
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee welcomes you as your enter the narrow wooden door. And a flash of the bright blue sea can be seen across the courtyard through a narrow door in backyard.
After ordering the coffee I wandered around the place, peeked into the Café’s Art Gallery, before climbing up a flight of wooden stairs to access the first floor.
And what I saw blew me away. A Library with a massive collection of books stored in floor to ceiling shelves and an inviting atmosphere beckoned me. Although I did not have much time to browse through the entire collection, I could see that the collection was an eclectic mix of all possible genres. There were even books in French, German and Russian.
You could grab couple of books go to the window, sit by it comfortably, read or gaze at the Fort Kochi bay and start reading. There is nothing to come between you and the books. From time to time, you can spot a few boats, ferries and Naval ships crossing by tooting their horns in a friendly, not disturbing way.
The main library leads to a smaller hall, which had very dim lighting. Intrigued I ventured further in to find that it was the ‘Audio Visual Laboratory’, which has an exhaustive collection of audiobooks, CDs and DVDs – all neatly arranged and numbered. A couple of TVs with DVD players and headphones, and 3-4 Audio CD players with headphones on one side of the room completed the set-up.
The best part about the Library was its peaceful atmosphere. I don’t think books are allowed to be taken out of the library; one has to sit there and read it. There was no one to supervise, and yet everything was neatly placed and organized. I didn’t see many patrons around though I believe various foreign tourists and people living nearby frequent the Library.
I could not find out more details about the owner of the place, but whoever they are they love books, art and coffee. J I really wish more initiatives are taken to develop such libraries in other places. Maybe there are better such libraries, elsewhere in India, this is one was the best I’ve visited till now.
I am going back to Fort Kochi again, especially for this place and at least spend 2-3 days entirely at the Library. And if you visit the Pepper House Café, do have a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee and their delicious carrot cake.
Till then, Happy Reading!
Rahul is one of the co-founders of The Sunday Book Club. He visited the Pepper House Cafe while on a holiday in Kerala. He had a wonderful time as you can see and his account and photos of his experience at this beautiful place has left the other two founders a little green with envy. 😉