"We used to open by 9 in the morning, and when I reached the café, I could see people waiting to occupy a chair," says Kothari. "That was the kind of rush we had then. Though our timing was 9 am to 9 pm, most of the days, we used to close only by 10 pm. Some days, it even went beyond 11 pm."
He started with six machines, but had to double the number because of the demand. There were five more net cafés in the same shopping arcade then. Now, Kothari's Adyar.com is the only one remaining. All the others have shut shop.
The number of customers started dwindling in the last two to three years, says Kothari. From Rs 60 per hour, he reduced the charge to Rs 30 an hour. But the customer graph has been steadily on the decline.
"Now, everybody has broadband connection at home. They do the chatting and surfing at home. With Wi-Fi, even the floating crowd got reduced. Those who come to cafes are mainly the floating crowd, and not those who live here. I don't know what the future of Net cafes is," Kothari sighs.
Till recently, he used to get families who wanted to talk to and see - through microphones and web cam -- their sons and daughters abroad.
"Now, many of these families have all these gadgets at home. So, the number of such customers also has come down."
It is a Monday when we visit Kothari's cafe, and it's 10 am, but the café is completely empty. The only customer who walks wants to scan a picture and write it onto a CD.
Kothari's parting shot: "You should have seen my café a few years ago at this time..."
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