Chennai is a busy, bustling, noisy city. In the middle of all the hustle and bustle is a calm and green oasis called Amethyst.
Amethyst used to be housed in a beautiful century-old colonial mansion. There was a charming café on its veranda which wrapped around three sides of the house, and you could also sit in the elegant black-and-white-tiled drawing room decorated with old furniture. On the ground floor there was also a small bookshop, another selling designer clothes, and a flower shop. Upstairs there was space for exhibitions and cultural events.
This was a favourite haunt for me when visiting Chennai because the atmosphere was truly unique. I had written about it on this blog back in 2007 and posted some photographs of what it was like then.
Then at the end of 2010, I heard the news that it was closing down. Shock. Horror. How could that be possible? But a new Amethyst soon opened not too far away from the old Amethyst, but it just wasn’t the same is what I had written back then. The new Amethyst was not a charming old mansion but a new construction. The colonial-style furniture and even the floor tiles were transplanted to the new building, an attempt at retaining a few remnants of the old Amethyst. The new building also had a wrap-around veranda and an even bigger garden. This is the most amazing part of the new Amethyst: its beautiful lush garden which was newly planted and lovingly tended and now years later has been transformed into a tropical paradise.
So Amethyst’s lovely Wild Garden Café has once again become a favourite haunt. However, the service and food have not improved much since it got a new avatar. It’s still a challenge to get the waiters’ attention, and though the menu has been spiffed up a bit, the food is really hit and miss. Oh, and pricey.
“So why do we keep coming here?” my friends and I ask each time.
“Because there is no other place like this in Chennai,” is the simple answer.
A place where you can escape from the hustle and bustle. A place where you can sit under the plants and trees and breathe. A calm and green oasis.
Address: Amethyst, next to Corporation Bank, Whites Road, Royapettah, Chennai 600 014. Website: http://www.amethystchennai.com/