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Leaping Windows: A café in comic-dom

Just off the busy and bustling Indiranagar 100 feet road, lies a residential area in 9th Main. Here’s where comic lovers in Bangalore are transported to another world. Where Sandman, the dark knight, Maus and Halahala share shelf space. This is Leaping Windows – a café and a library – where you can eat, have a coffee and read your favourite Neil Gaiman, Jeff Loeb and Frank Miller classics.

You can either become a member (and take the books home) or just walk in and pay Rs 30 an hour to sit down and read from their library.
Devika Rao, partner and co-owner of Leaping Windows explained how it all started, “My partners Bidisha Basu and Utsa Shome shared a common passion for comics and graphic novels and used to lend out their collection. They started a lending library and finally, a café in Mumbai. I live in Bangalore and when they wanted to have a presence, and we decided to collaborate.”

Split across two floors, the interiors are bright, well-lit with comic art on the walls. The balcony walls are decked with art inspired by comics, created by Indian comic artist Appupen (of ‘Moonward’ and ‘The legends of Halahala’ fame). They have around 1500 comic books and graphic novels ranging from DC, Marvel and Vertigo, to Tin Tin, Calvin and Hobbes, Asteryx and quite a bit of Manga.

“Why a library and café for comics?” we wondered. “Bidisha (Basu, partner and co-owner) was in Japan and saw a lot of Manga comic cafes there. She wanted to bring that culture to India. Of course Manga is very niche in India still, which is why we decided on comics and graphic novels,” said Rao. How many people read comic books and how many members does Leaping Windows have, we asked. “It’s a hobby that’s been catching up. We started just a month ago and we already have 70 members,” smiled Rao.

Bangaloreans, “revere and respect” their comics,” she felt, adding “they take care of the comics and there have been no cases of theft or damage. We have a well-read and responsible member-base. Speaks a lot about the people in the city actually!”

Responsible readers, successful comic related events and comic publishing houses setting up base in the city. Are comics presently high on the cool quotient? “Yes, you could say that. Earlier, comics were considered for kids. Today, grown-ups like it just as much. Comic publishers want to be in Bangalore and artists want their work showcased. Comics are very cool right now!”

No idlis and dosais here. “People in Bangalore eat at really odd times and so we provide burgers, salads, sandwiches and all-day-breakfast which is very popular.”

Leaping Windows is a full-time engagement for the three partners, Basu, Shome and Rao. While Basu and Shome manage their Versova-based café in Mumbai, Rao manages things in Bangalore.

In the days to come, Rao says she would want people to contribute to their existing library. “We haven’t worked out the commercials for such an engagement, but we would like that,” she said. Rao also said she wants Leaping Windows to become a centre for comic lovers and artists. She’s open to publishers and artists showcasing their releases and work in the café. Details about Leaping Windows can be found at www.leapingwindows.com