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A Lot Can Happen Over Coffee

Smriti Rai | September 23, 2020
A Lot Can Happen Over Coffee

The tagline of a famous coffee chain in India might not have pondered upon it as much as I have done over a cup of coffee. As the winter air chills the atmosphere, there it is, always with a warmth that brightens up your day. Hey! That’s coffee!

Coffee, like life, tastes best when the deferential beans are roasted and churned, boiled to perfection and served with a dash of milk with just the right amount of sugar if we like. But life actually turns out like instant coffee where you want the greatness out of it but you let it settle for something less.

Coffee is central to my new normal

While I gall about situations in life, coffee is the energiser during my morning hours when I am rushing through my chores, and asking my child to get ready for his online classes, while preparing myself to take one. Accompanying this din is the never ending ringing of the doorbell, hushing people around me, my tip toeing relatives and constant whistles from the pressure cooker signifying the rush of the hour.

Meanwhile, the coffee brews and my patience wears thin just as does my wi-fi network during vital classes, meetings and webinars. And there stands on the counter, the cup staring at me as if inviting me to fill it and this sequence of events has become my new normal.

For me, stories are shared while sipping a cup of coffee. Normal were those days when we took time out to meet with friends over a steaming cup. It used to be an everlasting roller coaster of conversations, emotions and usually extending well beyond two cups in a quaint cafe. The waiter would then be quick enough to bring in the cheque, pretending as though he’d heard us call for it. However, not to be outdone, we’d decide to order one more round in order to not get chased away from the cafe and continue where we left off from. Coffee, in those moments, felt like looking up at the world occasionally while life passed by reminding us of how wonderful some friendships have been.

The many roles that coffee enacts

With colleagues, it has always been a filler, in between exchanging few words and rushing in for the next class , handing out a cup to one another in between, showing that you care, for which one couldn’t thank enough for relieving your parched throat.

In general meetings, it often was a cup of etiquette where you want to gulp it down at once but prefer to sit still, with a smile and a nod reaching out for that extra packet of sugar when your fellow mates either refuse the sugar or just take one, leaving me contemplating whether I am overindulging.

At home, coffee assumes the role of a companion while reading a book, watching a film, or simply when getting lost in a flood of thoughts. It is also the perfect complement to those moments of dozing off only to find that the brew has turned cold and that a fresh cup must be made. It’s like a fresh start to something that you might have lost but gearing up to get it back with the same rigour and grit, when this pandemic ends. It also reminds me of the famous quote by Maya Angelou – that ‘no matter what happens or how bad it seems today, life does go on and it will be a better tomorrow.’

The emotions evoked

I hold a cup of coffee as I write this article, imbibing its flavour every so often and thinking all the while if something is missing.  Then it struck me that I forgot to stir the sugar while gulping down the last sip. Often wondering, how we view life as, sometimes sweet, sometimes tasteless nevertheless making you nostalgic about your ephemeral stories.

Coffee, however, has become my companion, an ‘entity’ with whom I have shared unimaginable stories, numerous experiences, countless hours. I even ‘hold on’ to it when the going gets tough. It has become synonymous to a familiar face. I search in a room full of people, find solace, smile and say’ “Ah! There you are!”

As its aroma fills the air and reaches my nostrils, it gives me a feeling of meeting an old friend and saying, “Hey, I know you! And I’m glad to find you are here!”


Smriti Rai

Smriti is currently teaching in the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling. A reader, dreamer, movie buff and drama fan, she draws inspiration from everything around her including the spider climbing the wall. Currently pursuing her PhD from Central University of Sikkim, research has given Smriti a new dimension to life and has added a different approach to her thinking, she says. Smriti dreams of making an avantgarde Nepali film which will be etched in the history of Nepali cinema forever.

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