Anyone for coffee ?

We are brewing. Really. New brew ! We have officially established South Indian rule in our home ! Yes. We We too drink Filter Coffee !! I mean, we too make it at home. Right here! And yes. We too have arrived ! (Wikipedia has all the details for you here !)

Amongst the many that i talk to, any discussions around my origins invariably lead to a discussion around Filter Coffee. The sharp eyed would have spotted my squirm and a shuffle of feet. Or atleast a shuffle of fingers of the feet, inside the shoe.

For in the family, ‘filter coffee’ was confined to the borders of Tamil territory. In our family tree. But we broke it all.

During this trip back home, coffee powder was picked up. ” ‘PB’ standing for ‘Peaberry’ ” we were told. The coffee filter was picked up, right here in Mumbai. And voila there is a decoction and the strong aroma of coffee that waffles through the morning air are now common place.

To the uninitiated, this may not be big deal. Neither was Filter coffee a big deal to us, until we moved here. North of the deep south !! Here, good old Filter Coffee is seen as an integral part of a Tamil existence. That connection seems to rule common mind space. Like a cross to Christ !!! Very rightly so !

Sample this. We would have guests at home. The best of good food would be served, nay, attempted. And promptly showered with wonderful critical acclaim that’s generous. And then a few thinly veiled questions would surface about filter coffee. You know, something like, ” the food was tastier than the ones that we get in Matunga, but over there you get filter coffee also’ !

And we would grin and mouth our ‘thank yous’. Pretending that their statements didn’t go beyond the comma. Now, the guests who did comment were a small minority. But you know, we feared the worst. Even when nothing was said !!!

But now, hey, we too have filter coffee !

And as the coffee sinks in, leaving a strong aftertaste in the mouth and in the air around too, we glance at slogans like “coffee drinkers are better thinkers” with a new slant !

But you know something, the coffee is something. Really something. Today, i wondered why there is so much of connection to the drink. I wonder if its because it helps me connect with home, with every sip? I haven’t been a great fan of coffee. Until now.

I don’t know.

But that’s not whats important. Whats important is this : The guest list is being refurbished. With some confidence ! Aha !

Now, anyone for coffee ?

Whats On Your Gate !

I am decent chap, you see. Seriously. Please don’t conclude by the quality of the written word on this blog. I really am a decent chap. Ok !?! And so, when friends invite me for dinner ( yes, i do get invited, once in a while), i go.

Till sometime back, i went with joy and without any hesitation. The only question that was on the tip of my tongue was ‘Whats for dinner?” These days, that is the last question. If at all we get there. For many a time, i don’t get to go beyond the gate !

For,every apartment worth its home loan balance, leakage and squabbling association, has a string of notices that hang by a thick string at the gate. You just cant miss those signboards.

The following are the most common in the area where i live, in the order of occurrences.(Yes. Sure. I did a research).

1. No Parking In Front Of Gate
2. No Entry For Outside Vehicles
3. No Entry Without Valid Permission

These signs, to put it mildly, amuse me no end. Although, i must confess, sometimes they are downright intimidating. Sample this workplace gate at a workplace near ours.

You cant go if you drove an ‘outside’ vehicle. Nor can you park your ‘outside’ vehicle, somewhere close to the gate. And if you are enraged with the entire arrangement, you cant stick a complaint on their face. And if you plan to enter through the side…well, beware of dogs !

I really think we need to start a mass movement to have more ‘welcoming’ signboards on apartment gates. I really think it is time we did that.

Signboards that will not make visitors feel like hunted aliens driving a single door UFO with blinking lights and hissing gas. And of course, visitors must feel better than creeps who killed an army of people with twin antennae and a slithering tongue.

I know. I know. You think i am taking all of this too far. But, sample this gate that i spotted on LBS Marg.

Now, if there was some friend (who is not a relative) who invited me here for dinner, the food he served will not go beyond my oesophagus !!

So, in true form, i seethed about ‘positive vibes’ & made random noises about ancient Indian hospitality. And the missus listened.

Used to such rants by now, she crossed her arms, tilted her head and said, ” so wise man, what do you want to write instead of whats written over there. These boards come with a purpose. Now tell me, how will you say that, with a positive vibe?” ( Married folks understand that sentence. Yet to be married folks will understand it in time)

Now, that set me thinking. The challenge thrown, and the gauntlet picked, i stood like a gladiator with ten unchained lions attacking me, with strings from an iron gate. So, working furiously, i thought of these…

No Parking In Front Of Gate
Reserved Parking for the mentally disabled or Reserved parking for people with severe body odour / Reserved Parking for Stolen Cars.

Now, how cool would that be !?! ‘Reserved Parking’ sounds cool. Much cooler than ‘No Parking In Front Of Gate’

hmm… or perhaps, ‘Please keep the engine on. We dry clothes on the bonnet’ !
Or, even better. ‘Smile. You are now on Police CCTV’ !

No Entry For Outside Vehicles
Exclusive Entry for Red Mercedes 280 SL with Retreaded MRF Tyres.

And folks who write ‘Beware of dogs’ can consider writing something common, but specific enough. Something like ‘ We are a quiet neighbourhood. Dogs that bite, seldom bark.’. That would be neat. What say !

And so i continued. But stumbled when i came to the blokes who have a ‘members and relatives only’ signboard….

‘Vampires Live Here’, i said. But that was promptly shot down with a shove by the missus. I am still wondering. In the interest of the MMWS (Mass Movement Towards Welcoming Signboards), can you shake your brains a little please ?!?

If you are plain lazy like i usually am, just wanted to let you know that i have made a transition. Whenever a dinner invitation reaches me, the question no longer is, ‘Whats on the plate”…but…

“whats on your gate?”

White Shroud Thinking !

Any program / event in any of these hotels have strange butterflies from a foreign land flutter in my stomach. No politics there.

It just is in large part to those huge white shroud that cover those chairs ! One of those days, it was a waiter who had to bear the brunt of my curiosity.

‘Why on Earth would you want to cover those chairs ? And that too with that shroud?’
And his terse answer was, ‘ i am not authorised to speak on this sir’ ! No. I am not kidding.

My wicked mind thinks, to this day, he should have thought of me as one of those journalist types, sticking a camera or a tape recorder from an inconceivable place in the body ! Trying to make a story out of his simple shroud, in a shrill voice backed by an ‘expert’ panel!

There just is no other explanation !

Coming back the chair itself, i think it is time for collective action. To free the chair from the shroud. And this is no Turin ! So, lets do it with secular focus, precision and dedication !

But why could they have come with these white shrouds in the first place ? My hypotheses hover around ‘too many guests with dirty pants’ and the ‘hotel’s struggle to make the chair, washing-machine-compatible’ !

Yes. Thats all ok !!

At a more deep level ( sic ) these armless chairs, with white hoods, that cover the legs resemble…well…ghosts of some kind. Come on, there are enough fears about venturing near a hotel these days. And i am not talking terrorists or their like. It is those big burly safari clad crew cut types, who give you a strange look and stick a decrepit mirror underneath an inconceivable part of the car ! Thats some height to withstand.

Meeting ghosts & static look alikes in the ballroom is a height that i am not too keen on scaling.

I really am scared of such chairs. Ok. You don’t believe me. I encourage you to take a look at the snap above that i clicked at a program last week. If you were Da Vinci, you would have seen the possibility to paint ‘The Last Supper of Ghosts !’

For me, from time immemorial, ghosts had that white shroud and no legs. And, when i do sit on these chairs, especially during training program, the thought of caressing my back on a ghost haunts me. It gets me goose bumps that rip through my body like an earthquake ! And i am all alert, in a jiffy !

And then, i realise that i don’t mind the white shroud.

Well,….not that much !