“I Am Cooking Something Else”: The story of Oxford’s legendary Magic Café

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Hafiz Ladell’s introduction to his recently published book.

I Am Cooking Something Else“I Am Cooking Something Else”
The story of Oxford’s legendary Magic Café

by Hafiz Ladell

Publisher: ‎ Independently published (18 Oct. 2021)
Paperback‏: ‎ 252 pages
ISBN-13: ‎ 979-8492328382
Dimensions : ‎ 18.9 x 1.52 x 24.61 cm


Those fortunate people – “the chosen few”, veterans of the Osho commune – whatever happened to them? Surely they didn’t all become therapists?

It’s been long enough now for the ripples from that big splash – the Pune Ashram, the commune experiment, Rajneeshpuram – to have spread far and wide into public culture. To attempt to tell that story would be far too great a task: there is doubtless too great a variety of experience and subtle nuance to bottle it whole. Everybody has their own tale to tell; I have realised that it is time to tell my own.

In wishing to celebrate my marvellous creation, the Magic Café in Oxford, I have taken my title from a motto accompanying Osho’s photo in the kitchen of the Berlin commune, Dörfchen, where I lived for more than two years in the mid-80s: “I Am Cooking Something Else”. An appropriate message for a kitchen, you might think – but it always struck me as having a mysterious quality, hinting at hidden, unsayable depths to the Master’s teaching – something to cling to while, all around, our beloved commune became mired in scandal and controversy.

I emerged from my commune adventure with some special catering skills: specifically, I had cultivated the art, or at least the aspiration, to “cook from the heart”. Could this, I wondered, be something I could bring to the wider world? Over time, having relocated to my chosen hometown, Oxford, this creative germ manifested as The Magic Café, a much-loved community venue which offered something rather special to its many customers and staff – Something Else, you might say.

My book has been very enthusiastically received, since publication late last year. Most sales have been local thus far, as befits its designated subject. However, such is the range of my narrative – an adventure spanning decades and continents, a journey inwards as much as a story of external manifestation – I would like to commend it to a wider readership.

Entertaining, imaginative and inspiring

review on amazon by J Magill

Hafiz’s book is like a treasure chest, there are always more jewels to be found. His style is entertaining and reads almost like poetry in places. And the adventures he has got up to in his full life are not only inspiring but fascinating and would be of interest even had they not been written about so well!

I particularly really enjoyed reading about the behind-the-scenes of following the dream of setting up the Magic Café and what actually goes into making a dream happen and sustaining it over a long period of time. I can resonate to that! And inspiring it was too, to read how he listened to his instincts when it was time to let go of it. Many thanks for a great read.

Back cover blurb

Towards the end of the last century a wonderful new venue appeared on the back streets of East Oxford – the Magic Café. It proved to be very popular, and sold memorable chocolate brownies. Where did it come from, this marvellous creation? What stories might there be to tell?

Here is a fascinating meditation on creative process: a quest for vision and purpose, the manifestation of a dream, and the long-term consequences of focussed commitment.

Here too is a wealth of illustrations, together with diverse contributions from staff members and the local community. It’s fun, and full of insight – the distillation of the Magic Café experience.

A book to savour. The record of a personal journey that encapsulates the recent history of East Oxford in the story of one totemic Café”
– Martin Stott, author, The Cowley Road Cookbook

Here’s to you, Hafiz, for caring and sharing your talents and your vision with us all. It’s people like you that make a place worth living in”
– Matt Sage, Catweazle impresario


Hafiz is still reflecting on his amazing adventures as an Osho sannyasin, which enabled his unique transformational project, The Magic Café.

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