Sunday, May 01, 2011


Life around a cup of coffee

Coffee. Easily the most talked about, discussed, deliberated and described beverage in the world. Being the thorough, rigorous and analytical fellow that my internship tutor took me to be, I decided to conduct a Google Trends analysis for the same. No beverage could even come close- beer was the only one that offered some respectable competition. The peoples of Maddu-land, Mallu-land, Brazil, Mexico and Ethiopia can rejoice while those of Germany, Czech and dear old Belgium order another keg in despair. I then proceeded to compare Coffee with greater stalwarts. Rajnikant was blown away, Big B found a bigger C. Even Sachin was dwarfed. Not to be outdone, I entered personal virtual favourites- Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox into the fray. Horror of horrors- coffee again. Slimy thing, I thought- take on Pam, feeling much like that Pokemon guy when he calls upon Pikachu. And lo, one cup beat two jugs. The fact that I completely skewed the competition, or in corporate terms, did a thorough stress-test by entering insurance, porn and sex should take nothing away from the mother of all chocolates and just be treated as a footnote.

When Shakespeare composed the Seven Stages of Man, he might as well have pivoted the whole thing around coffee. As a kid, coffee is right up there with Archie comics, late-night TV and sugar-cane juice sold by street vendors- forbidden fruit. Longing looks are shot at that box of Necafe while the perennial shuffle between Bournvita, Maltova and Complan goes on. Patience is only rewarded on that glorious day when the house suddenly runs out of drinking chocolate, and since one refuses to have unflavoured milk, the mater is generous enough, for one day only, to add the teeniest amount. Joy to the world. Such are the simple pleasures of childhood.

Time goes by. ESPN displaces Cartoon Network as your favourite TV channel. Aishwarya Rai becomes the Miss of your world. Queen Elizabeth staunchly refuses to be past tense. Jyoti Basu gives her tough competition as he ensures Calcutta remains as she would have last remembered it. Shah Rukh Khan is still Rahul and refuses to leave college. A student of high school now, Barrista is the place to be. Make that place to hang-out. Their ACs work the best, there's always a guitar, a chess-set and a scrabble board. They never kick you out either, even when 10 of you order 3 coffees and sit around feeling cool. The menu has tantalizing words like frothy, delectable, sinful and elixir. The illustrations are all the more mouth-watering. And there are brownies too. The best-looking girls are always there, more often than not with an oversized lump. Such is life, you say, as you take another sip of the hot/cold coffee depending on the weather.

By the time you've entered college, Bournvita has become a strict no-no (partly because of Derek O'Brien and his ridiculous habit of asking quizzers to dance barefoot to earn points) and Milo is no longer sold in India. As the Crime-master Gogos of this world call up relatives in Singapore to demand Milo, the majority of us decide to move on, to coffee. At this point, if you spent 4 years at the weirdo ghetto affectionately called R, Cafe Coffee Day takes a special place in your heart. The menu has been memorized and devoured multiple times already. Yes yes, Kapi Niravana is the best. And the Spinach Corn sandwich is better than all the non-veg ones put together. Be it EPL or IPL, Barrons' mugging sessions or pseudo-intellectual discussions, CCD is a second home. If you're a dinosaur masquerading as a Tam-Brahm, you've even called over a waiter to ask him the difference between the Aztec and the Ethiopian. The hapless soul has hemmed, hawed, said I-don't-know and slunk away with his tail between his legs, much like Cesc Fabregas when asked why he continues to play for Arsenal. Or the director of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom when asked why he chose to make the movie. Or George Bush when asked if two and two make four. You get the idea.

The characters in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. hang out at the coffee house. The Coffee Bean serves some of best cheese-cake. You start wondering what Pamuk was talking about when he told of a section of society not liking coffee-houses. What's there not to like? It's indulgence and mellowed and has fancy Italian sounding accompanying words.

And then you enter the big bad world. Suddenly, your wardrobe has more shirts than T-shirts and more trousers than denim. You have to shave everyday, posting once a month is an achievement and more kids are calling you Uncle. You agree whole-heartedly when your team-mates ask you if you want to take a coffee-break. And that's when you get those imaginary Jack-ass ears that remind you of your Cartoon Network days. Suddenly, two glasses of coffee a day have become a compulsion that make sure you're not yawning when the Big Boss is talking about impact and growth. Sleep, the enchantress that one has forever loved, treasured and wooed becomes more elusive with every drop. Say coffee and the picture of relaxation, timelessness and a rich chocolate creamy froth is replaced by words like productive, break and industrial effluents in a forbidding cup. The lamb has been fattened, the altar of sacrifice is ready. 

You take another sip, slip further into that caffiene induced stupor, start playing Nothing Lasts Forever and smile ironically. And then you walk over to the IT guys to ask if they can write a code that'll keep running searches for Beer and Megan Fox so that, in however small a way, you can have your revenge.

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