Ordinary pleasures

For the ordinary human, and I am one, the carrot dangling before the closed eyes just before they open on reluctant mornings is the steaming cuppa, be it tea or coffee, based on one's preference. In fact, on any odd blue evening or night, the very thought of waking up the next morning to the aroma of hot filter coffee is sufficient to pep me up. My morning time with a delicious cupful and the daily is indeed a cherished anticipation.

I remember the giant filter that was used during my childhood at my maternal home for the scores of inmates, including sundry guests on any given day, and consumed at least three times daily. The earlier brass filter, and later a steel one, took charge of filtering the coffee powder, purchased assiduously from a shop called Krishna Coffee Works. The powder here would be freshly prepared by grinding the beans right in front of us, to the desired consistency.

My tryst with coffee started only after entering the hallowed age of 20! Coffee was meant for adults and we children made do with the likes of plain milk and Bournvita. If at all we stared at the elders drinking the 'ambrosial liquid' with a greedy glint in our eyes, the cook would then cautiously put a drop of decoction into our milk and declare that it was indeed coffee for us. That concoction was consumed with a secret thrill as the forbidden was attractive, always. That scene was replayed as my little daughters grew up amid the wafts of coffee fumes in the house.

Tea was a rarity in the house. A special type of tea called Congo tea was served at the popular Hotel Sudha in my town, and once I crossed my teens I was allowed to taste it on rare occasions as it was a unique blend of chocolate and tea! At home, I tried a variant with coffee and Bournvita blended together and named my innovation, 'Bobrew' which changed into 'Bobru' once the instant appeared as a standby at my house.

Unlike in the West, coffee and tea here are mostly consumed with milk and sugar, and in certain towns, the more the sugar, the more it is appreciated by the locals! I sometimes wonder if I have prepared "sherbet" instead of tea for my domestic help and the odd labourer working at my house.

My toddler grandson, Kanishk, once on a visit, was wont to relish a warm cup of milk, sipping it through a straw, beaming and repeating the words,"Galam, galam chai!" On one occasion he happened to see all the elders drinking a brown coloured liquid - puzzlingly, also called 'chai' - and demanded the same. Imagine his delight when I poured a few drops of tea into his milk! His innocent eyes saw the brown liquid mixing with the as-yet-white coloured beverage in his cup with awe. I saw my own little self and my young daughters in my grandson. I smiled as history had repeated itself.

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