Be an Assamese...

Be an Assamese...


With my extended family, which included my parents-in-law, I had reached Guwahati in the night and had checked into a lovely guest house. Getting up early from bed, we were sitting on the sprawling lush lawns and enjoying the invigorating morning air looking at the mighty Brahmaputra. Pots of freshly brewed Assamese tea were placed for our consumption. Three varieties of tea were available and I was quite excited to taste the exquisite teas of Assam.

When the bearer started pouring tea into my father-in-law’s cup, he refused point blank and asked for coffee. My wife said, “Dad, we are in Assam which is famous for tea.  You won’t get coffee here.” He said firmly, “Dear, in the past 65 years or so never have I started my day without coffee. I just don’t like tea, however good it might be. I want coffee and nothing else.” I butted in to say that it is virtually impossible to get coffee in Guwahati. He said he would rather go without coffee than drink the light tea which I was so much enjoying. We were to stay in the North East for at least five days and how could we allow the old man to miss his daily doses of coffee seemed to be the thought my wife was having. She looked at me pleadingly.

I finished my tea and went out in search of coffee with a thermos slung around my shoulder. At that part of the day not a single cafe was open. Wayside dhabas had not heard of coffee. I went round and round the town and my driver kept pointing out at all the famous landmarks of Guwahati. After two hours of search, I located a departmental store which had instant coffee. I bought a big jar and returned to the guest house.
When I reached back, it was breakfast time and the family was around the dining table. I joined them triumphantly producing the jar of instant coffee. My father-in-law said, “Son, you have missed noticing something.” I gave a quizzical look. He pointed at his cup. He was drinking Assamese tea! I was stunned.

He said: “Your wife gave me a big lecture and asked me to be a Roman while at Rome. So I thought I will give Assam tea a try. It really tastes good.” Pointing at the coffee jar I looked at my wife. She said, “We will keep it, I don’t know when the old man will change his mind.” I muttered a curse and sat for breakfast.