Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Of A South Indian Coffee Lover

   Fondly called 'Filter Kaapi'.

I think, the temptation to do what we are precisely asked not to, is irresistible, around the world, since forever. Just like the way my brother put his leg in a camp fire right after he was precisely told not to. He learnt his lesson; I didn’t get a chance to learn mine. I might have done the same then, maybe if I was not perched on my dad’s shoulders being just a toddler.

Let me start here. Coffee & tea are forbidden to children in many Indian families (health-conscious families).
Once the word ‘forbidden’ pops up, curiosity piques us exactly in that direction.

It starts with a beautiful aroma of morning coffee that adults enjoy, sipping slowly, the white vapours of fuming brown liquid, clicking the tongue in appreciation, with occasional 'Ummm..!’, ‘Waah…!’, whirling the glass quickly one last time before the last sip, following the coffee etiquette; while the kids are given a big mug of the Bournvita/ Horlicks etc.  I'm not saying I don't like it, in fact, I love it, but coffee always had me in awe. The first obvious difference was the rich aroma while the amount of vapors the second. My Bournvita's vapours used to die after a minute or two, unlike the tumbler that my dad was holding, which fumed continuously till almost the end.

Every time I cast a furtive glance towards it, my mom would start on the goodness of milk & evil effects of coffee, of which I've heard all through my childhood. She goes on into the lecturing mode and believe me, you don't want those lectures at home by a high-school-teacher-mom.

There was not much time to pester her in the mornings, but evenings should be good, right? If you think yes, just wait!

My mom had two weapons of diversion.

If friends come home to take me out for the evening sports, there isn't much time for badgering her, I just quickly gulp down the Bournvita given to me, while giving her I’ll-deal-this-matter-presently look & make a move.

Or sometimes if I’m at home, there comes the shrill cry, "Ah Ice cream, cup ice, cone ice, ah mango, draksha (grape), ah milk ice," by the ice cream-wala.  She buys me the ice cream I want & the unspoken contract binds me into not pestering her for the evening. The irrevocable deal is made.
If it's an ice-sproot (Popsicle) children are given a glass that should be kept directly beneath the ice-sproot, while eating it, so that it won't drip on to floors (you don't want to hold a glass? Fine, eat it outdoors). I used to trail behind her with the ice-sproot in my mouth, a glass in a hand, with imploring looks. Sometimes out of sheer frustration gives me a coffee, after a lot of swearing though (totally worth it).

Every time some relatives or friends come home and enjoy the Coffee made by my mother saying, “Jaya, you make really good coffee,” it takes all my strength to keep myself composed and not to give greedy looks towards the cups in their hands.

There was this one time when she was so annoyed & played a prank on me. She announced, "Everyone will get coffee today." I was really happy while my dad & brother were going through the newspaper nonchalantly. She came with a tray with chinaware & gingerly set down the tray of fuming cups. I was engrossed in a write-up from a Sunday magazine that was just won – for there used to be a small scale fight to get hands on the Sunday magazine of Eenaadu, a popular Telugu daily, which included an awesome coloured magazine catering to people of all ages. I didn't spare a look towards the tray, but my hands worked their way & brought a cup to my lips, one gulp and I knew I was tricked.  Everyone was laughing, no, rolling, gloating over their well-planned prank. It was just Bournvita brought in usual coffee cups.

Later, my mother even stopped taking Coffee and Tea herself to inspire me. But, alas! I can’t.

I take it when I don't have anything to do, when I'm in some deep thought, when I want something to be extracted from the attic of my brain, when I'm reading a novel, in the gap between two classes, to celebrate, or when I'm feeling low, when I'm about to start a journey, when I'm on the journey, while watching a movie, to make a decision, when I'm angry, when I want to stay awake before an exam (though that really doesn't seem to work) etc., more like, I do many things while taking a coffee.

A South Indian Filter Coffee, though taken many times a day can never be tagged quotidian, for its a grand ritual of its own, what else can make anyone's mood change from being churlish to smug satisfaction with just one cup.

I outgrew all my childhood fears & inhibitions, but never this coffee thingy. Now I'm far from my parents, yet my mom manages to call me right when I'm just in front of a cup of coffee, I don't know how she does that. I used to fumble at first, but now quite conveniently lie that I'm taking Bournvita, though I suspect she knows the truth,  and that makes me nervous, I just hope I don't fidget that way when I'm on a date, with the special person sitting across the table, with a coffee on it.


  1. So all this time you have been taking Coffee & yet telling us you were taking Bournvita huh??

  2. Wow the coffee vapours, I luuuuv them.

  3. Good one. I wish there were a "like" to the first comment :)


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