I had spoken to Yifat quite a few times before and after Madras Week. She was keen to know what it really was all about and promised to participate in 2008. So, after Madras Week, I made it a point to meet her at Vanilla, a quiet place right behind Nageshwara Rao Park at 8/57 Luz Avenue First Street. It is actually heritage property – Yifat says she hears it once belonged to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, India’s second President whose birthday is celebrated in the country as Teacher’s Day. That, of course, I will have to check out with city historian S. Muthiah.
The Vanilla experience, frankly, was not something I had bargained for. Basically a place for children, there is a play-gym, children’s furniture, accessories, a massage centre and a café! Vanilla caters to parents, parents-to-be, babies, toddlers and children. The ambience is just right for child and parent – calm, yet vibrant. According to Yifat, who runs the place, the concept of Vanilla came from a multi-national group of parents living in Chennai who wanted to create a desirable place where parents could share their experiences and spend quality time with their children.
Near the reception at the main entrance, there are a couple of rooms that showcase children's furniture and furnishings – simple and beautiful designs to inspire your child’s imagination, yet nothing too childish. The furniture is made of high-quality rubber wood and treated wood; the designs are contemporary, customised and multi-functional. Most of the furnishings are creations of Garima Agarwal of Peek-a-boo Patterns – bed linen, rugs, curtains, lamps, cushions…
The play-gym has been designed to strengthen a child physically and enhance its ability to listen, learn and develop social skills. Yifat says that the benefits include improvement in motor skills and coordination, and self-expression.
Massage therapy and yoga are offered to mothers and mothers-to-be. So, while children are busy enjoying themselves in the gym, mothers can get a quick hand or foot massage done.
The Vanilla workshops and programmes for parents and children focus on creative movement, dance, music and parenting skills.
But the place I liked best was Café Vanilla, ideal for snacks and Cappuccino. And that was where Yifat and I sat down for a long chat about Madras Week and other things.
It’s been quite a long journey for the young Israeli woman who lived in Tel Aviv once, is a qualified interior decorator, and has even experienced a few years in the Israeli desert with her husband (Yotam Agam is into the technical side of the music business) and children. She has grown to love Chennai, she says, and plans to make a mark here with Vanilla.
All the best, Yifat!
If you are keen to know more about Vanilla, call 45534146, email email@example.com, or log on to www.vanillaplace.com.