A Day at L’Occitane Café

My imagination has always been something that I could depend on, may it be for school and work, projects, presentations, and the things in between. Also, apparently, reimagining the past. The truth is, the only time that my imagination runs like a well-oiled machine is when I’m daydreaming, which I do quite often. So often, in fact, that my brain now perceives it as a logical and reliable gauge of expectation. Considering the limitlessness and vividness of it – things easily get out of hand.


One sunny day, I decided to go to Shibuya after school expecting to make a good shooting day out of it. I’ve been to Shibuya a couple of times before and was made aware of its popularity that bracing for heavy foot traffic has become almost instinctual. What I can never get over is how small the crossing area actually is compared to how it is portrayed in the media. Be that as it may, that doesn’t mean it’s any less crowded. Before you’ve even gotten out of the train station, you will already have been swept away by the wave of people trying to pass through the ticket gates, and, then, tossed to yet another wave of people trying to cross the street. That is exactly what happened to me, yet again. With a glance towards the Hachiko Statue, I bobbed along until I’ve found an opening wide enough to go my own way.


I didn’t really have a specific place in mind. I thought that I’d just walk around and shoot whatever interests me. I walked high and low (quite literally because there are some steep roads in Shibuya), turned left and right, all the while looking around for something that would catch my eye. Maybe the sun was too high, I wasn’t looking hard enough, an off timing, or a little bit of everything, but I wasn’t able to find anything that resonated with me. So I circled back and decided to go to L’Occitane Café to regroup.


The L’Occitane Café in Shibuya is a three-story establishment situated across the Hachiko Exit. Walking in, you’ll find yourself amidst bottles of cosmetics on the first floor, the café proper in the second, and its upper level in the third. I made a beeline towards the latter figuring that it’ll have the best view. Sure enough, it does. I asked one of the servers if I could be seated by the window, but, the caveat is: the window tables are only for reservations. Being the goody-two-shoes that I am, I decided not to press it (unlike the other walk-ins that came in after me) and settled for one of the tables in the middle of the room. Thinking it might turn my day around, I ordered a serving of the Mango Tiramisu and a pot of their organic coffee, which is as fancy as it sounds that I gagged in delight.


As I waited for my food, I thought to myself how this day couldn’t be farther from what I had imagined. My memory card was still practically empty; the best seats in the café, so close but still so far; and my to-do list was still as pristine as it had been when I made it. I crossed my fingers in hopes that the weather doesn’t turn 180 on me all of a sudden and start raining. Then, the waitress came by with my food, and all was put aside.


I poured myself a cup of coffee, added some milk in, and passed on the sugar. I took a sip, and, I must say, it was pretty good – not too strong, but packs enough punch. I, then, turned my attention towards the plate of tiramisu.

 Now, if my sources are true and correct, tiramisu is usually made with a layer (or more) of ladyfingers. As I sliced in, I expected some density and weight, but, to my surprise, my fork went right in, passing right through to the bottom layer and down to the plate without any additional effort. Sacrebleu, where are the ladyfingers, I thought to myself. Only when I was chewing did I realize that the ladyfingers have been substituted with sponge cake.


The realization got me thinking. What if setting expectations is a twin to being flexible when circumstances do not turn out as expected – yin and yang, so to speak. I was in a lovely café with a beautiful view, seated just a couple of tables away from it, all the while enjoying coffee and cake served on fine china. I came in not having a specific place in mind, but it found its way towards me in the end.


I paid my bill and I went home with the taste of the tropics that I miss so much still in my mouth, a significant amount of frames in my camera, and a sense of understanding of perfection.


It didn’t rain that day.

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