Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Coffee anyone?

Have you seen the new Nescafe ad? Its about this guy who turns off his hot neighbour by asking Will you have a cup of milk with me?

Yes the ad makes its point and works well. But I have a problem - I don't drink coffee. I can occasionally have tea. And this has been a problem since I hit the age when one cannot be friends over just chocolates and icecream.

At my first job everyone would have tea except me. For the first one week everyone in the office tried to coax me to try. Then they gave up but the taunting that I was "milk baby" never stopped. (Honestly I am not a big fan of milk either) It would get worse if we had some newcomer around tea-time. I had to explain all over that I don't drink tea and was subjected to stares of disbelief.

Then by the time I got to my second job I was ready to give tea a chance. Actually it was my only chance to make friends of my colleagues. All the tea-drinkers bonded over it (they resemble the smokers gang that way) while I was left hanging around (nothing deliberate I was assured). So I drank tea sometimes (talk about peer pressure).

Later I was quiet disgusted (with the tea and myself for bowing down to peer pressure) that I gave up tea. This wasn't helping my social life at work plus I never got to take a break from my desk. "You don't even drink tea why are you here?" I was asked by some concerned colleagues so I took the round about way. I started drinking Pepsi! Those were the days when MNCs were just beginning to pamper the "Indian middle class" so we had fountain pepsi machine installed at the canteen which pumped tons of litres a day. So here I was back in the social circle :-)

Then the whiff of breeze from far away Bodhi tree hit me. I woke up to the health hazards of aerated drinks (which my tummy reminded me on an hourly basis) and of course the whole why consume some American company's product while ignoring your own tender coconuts thing also happened (yes I was attempting to grow up in my own way). So I stayed off Pepsi too.

Now I was back to square one. But then one curious thing had happened which I had previously failed to notice. That is I was after all in the company of grown ups and had friends irrespective of my caffeine non-addiction. So I stopped worrying about it.

But journalism proved even tougher without coffee or tea consumption; especially when I had to go off to people's homes or villages to do a story. They either got very offended or got so obsessed about providing an alternative that I would feel horrible about being a non-caffeine person. So I would gulp it down. (That is when I discovered another advantage of being a grown up you can actually control your facial muscles when you are consuming something you don't like.)

Summer is the worst time for someone like me because you go somewhere for a story and they say "suda suda coffee saapudunga" (TN junta is extremely hospitable and they try their best to humour a young female journalist with a camera). It is truly a testing time. Don't believe me? Try having piping hot coffee under a tin roof at 2 in the afternoon when the temperature is 42 degrees.

In some of the villages they ask me if I want "colour" Tamil colloquial for soft drinks in recent times. Very often it will be some local replica of branded colas with god knows what in it. But if one can guzzle down the branded colas despite Sunita Narain screaming hoarse about pesticide content I can surely be courteous to my well meaning hosts (not before sending up a quick prayer that whatever happens the medicine could be found in Amma's kitchen). Occasionally I have been offered tender coconut and butter milk too which is truly god's gift to me. But the thing is these are expensive so can't expect them in places where people are earning just 20-30 rupees a day. And some of the places I've ended up in there's nothing but tea available for breakfast or lunch.

So given the circumstances I have made peace with caffeine. I have them in dire situations only.

However this doesn't mean that while hanging out with my friends I hold on to my bottle of Bisleri. I am very comfortable with wine, vodka and rum (no beer thank you very much) so I am doing okay even without caffeine. I wonder if this is an example of "She was meant for higher things"

Psst: I don’t like to drink coffee but love the ads and yeah I can have cold coffee like once in 3 months or so.

3 comments:

Kannan said...

You should have come to Pune. the standard question here is "you said you don't want chai, right?". That too in their chaste Puneri Marathi

Abhipraya said...

:-) I would've loved that Kannan.

Pavithra said...

A post after my own heart -- I know the disbelieving stare story so well! And it doesn't help that the TBs have a rep for being straang kaapi guzzlers! I can't even make the stuff well, which never fails to shock anyone who comes home!