I visited your den for the first time when I was in Dubai. Coming from a third world country, I wondered why you were so famous. We were inside a mall and that time we had no idea that malls could be so sophisticated and larger than life. Every material aspect which we had craved for was right there in the Emirates mall.
We had just finished shopping and had bought an LCD TV. It was first flat screen TV with my own money. We had to celebrate. Couple of my friends was looking around for restaurants which would be easy on the pocket. One of my friends discovered Starbucks. We looked at you and smiled broadly. The six of us thought conclusively that this is the place to celebrate.
We forgot the indigence and our situation. I sipped my first cup of café mocha and I did not know that I would soon have rendezvous with you. It cost me two dollars which was about one hundred rupees that time for one cup of coffee. I had collected the paper cup and brought it safely in India. On my trip to America I sat with a friend with a coffee. We talked for hours. Every weekend trip had three cups of cappuccino from the beloved Starbucks. In the age of globalization, it was imperative that Starbucks had to be in my hometown. I still can’t believe it!
I was passing by my college and saw the Ramji restaurant selling coffee. An impoverished lad was serving coffee from his coffee holder. I went inside and recollected the times when I had the South Indian coffee. I was recollecting the times when we had five rupees in our pockets and went on date; endless hours of conversation, laughs and cigarettes. I saw kids who like us were still doing their last-minute college projects inside the local coffee shop. Every project had markings of coffee spilled on sheets of paper.
Yesterday I went inside Madras Café and I sipped the ten rupee coffee. The smell was still fresh and was made perfectly with use of hands and not machine. It takes talent the way the coffee is made with two cups, pouring coffee from one cup to another, without spilling a single drop. Few of my office friends and college friends came over. Cigarettes, discussions and the mindless observation continued. The caffeine in our systems had made us jaunty. The coffee kept pouring.
I walked past the huge mall and I saw you inside the mall. You looked beautiful as ever and right opposite was the local Anna selling coffee on his bicycle and local biscuits. You will were my first love and aspiration; you always will be. But right now, I need to feel like I just need a cup of warmth. You might be the taste of success but I’ll always come back to the local south Indian coffee makers to get the piquancy of struggle.