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Overheard at coffee shops...

M Gautham Machaiah Nov 11 2017, 21:05 IST

The cuppa that cheers may invigorate the mind, but a visit to a coffee shop can also tickle the funny bone if you have honed the skills of prying and eavesdropping like me.

As I sip my café latte, I overhear a person giving directions in broken Hindi to somebody who does not seem to understand any other language. After a few exasperated efforts, he says, "Hand over the phone to some local person." The guy apparently gives the phone to a passer-by who speaks only Telugu. "Saar, please pass the phone to somebody who knows Kannada," our man pleads.

The next one to come on the line is a Tamilian who does not understand Kannada. "Kannada... Kannada..." our man insists. The phone is now in the hands of a gentleman who speaks Hindi and English, but not Kannada. Almost half an hour has passed and the person on the other side is none the wiser about the directions.

By now, the man in the coffee shop has lost all patience, "Yelladru hogi haalagi hoogu," (Go somewhere and get lost) he shouts and hangs up. Living in a cosmopolitan city like Bengaluru can lead to some hilarious situations!

Another day. Another coffee shop. A college-going couple is about to indulge in some public display of affection, when the girl suddenly spots me and warns her boyfriend through her eyes. Unfortunately, her eyes meet mine. "Do not worry about me," I say with an evil smile and point to the closed-circuit camera staring right at them. They quickly pay the bill and leave.

Sometimes, I notice how a few customers make fools out of themselves by being cantankerous. A guest who is served a tall glass of mosambi juice protests loudly, "I asked for sweet lime, not mosambi." It appears, he has mistaken sweet lime (mosambi) for fresh lime (lemon juice). The bearer politely explains the difference and the guest is finally convinced, but his ego does not permit him to accept his ignorance, especially when accompanied by a lady companion. "Next time, please do not mislead your customers," he warns. The bearer responds with a smile. The customer is always right.

Another guest who has ordered a sugarless cappuccino fires the bearer, "Why have you not added sugar? The bearer respectfully replies, "Sir, you asked for sugarless coffee." But the customer throws a googly, "When I said sugarless, I meant less sugar, not no sugar." Phew, it is tough being a bearer. Once, I find a very obese man - forgive me for being judgemental - who orders a jumbo burger with double cheese, french fries and extra mayonnaise. Just the sight of all that food on my plate would give me a heart attack.

The man polishes off the fare with relish and then, perhaps overtaken by guilt, he orders a cup of green tea, insisting, "No sugar please."

On another occasion, I come across an ex-MLA known to me and walk up to his table. His face turns chalk white as he stands up nervously to greet me. He does not recognise me as we have not met for a decade.

Raids have taken place on the houses of some politicians a few days ago, and going by my build and short hair-cut, he has mistaken me for a CBI officer. When I introduce myself, he is visibly relieved and lets out a sheepish smile. While I get my regular dose of comic relief at coffee shops, there are also times when I am inspired by what I hear, like this piece of advice by a young girl to her friend: "There are certain things in your control.
There are certain things that are not in your control.
Don't worry about things that are not in your control."

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