Unusual Occupations

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Put yourself in our shoes ...



Today, October 16, is Blog Action Day. Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included Water, Climate Change, Poverty, Food, Power of We and Human Rights, with over 25,000 blogs taking part since 2007.


This year’s topic is : INEQUALITY. 
As the yellow bus drove away carrying school children of the same age crisply ironed school  uniforms and neatly polished school shoes, these set of children slowly walked their way across to reach their school on time.

INEQUALITY exists. However education is the  hope  that will bridge the wide gap to achieve social equality.   

I am participating in 31days of five minute free write

This post is also part of Write tribe pro blogger October Series 



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It happens only in India

It happens only in India

Some things just bring a smile on your face ...

The local  kannada slang  - swalpa Adjust maadi' ( why do'nt to adjust a little)
is a strict no-no for these strictly vegetarian house owners.


This post is a part of 31 days of five minute Free write
This post is also a part of Write tribe - pro blogger October series  

Monday, October 13, 2014

WORK


Work

What a prompt to start the work week with. 

Monday morning blues ...

No I am not going into what a drudgery it is getting to be. 
( Ah .. I know there are colleagues who follow my blog and I know I have a responsibility to keep a cheerful disposition at work)

So here I go with a resolution for this work week.  
At work , this week I will ensure that I do  
  • A ittle bit of what is urgent but not important,
  • A little bit of what is important but not urgent
  • A little bit for me to enjoy      
  • A little bit for others to Enjoy
And make my workplace  better place for me and everyone to be in.
   

This post is part of the 31 days of Five minute Free  write  
This post is also my submission for the Write Tribe Pro blogger - October series

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rest

Rest

A brisk swim at the swimming pool
A warm bath after a good oil massage,

A sumptuous meal of rice, sambar and curry 
The fragrance of jasmine flowers wafting by...
The comfort of my bed with books strewn all around...
Drooping down with the book hung over the table lamp 
Waking up to a fragrant mint and ginger tea...
Slowly sipping the Tea, watching the afternoon drizzle
A restful afternoon Nap is what Sundays are meant for... 
The rest and its after effects is what gives the strength to take on the week ahead 




 This post is submitted as part of the Five minute Free wrtie where the for Topic for Sunday is Rest 
This is my submission for the Write Tribe Pro blogger - October series 


Saturday, October 11, 2014

The world is more Indian than you think

The world is more Indian than you think



It was a farmer’s market at Hounslow, a suburb in London. The sale was drawing  to a close at 5.00 pm and the British farmer was eager to sell off his stock before the close of the day. 


An Indian, a software programmer, possibly  fresh off the boat,  camping in UK for a short assignment , comes asking for ‘Lady’s finger’ .

Lady’s finger, a British import was not native to India before the British arrived.  Even today it is part of the ‘English vegetables’ like tomatoes, potatoes and carrots.  In India they are not cooked  in a home on a day when it is paying its annual respects to its dead ancestors called Shrardh.

Those of us born well after the Indian Independence and who were educated in convent educational institutions set up during the British Era grew up learning Lady’s finger and not its American equivalent Okra, we knew Brinjal and not the American Aubergine or eggplant.

The Indian software programmer asks this twenty something British farmer, how much he was selling the basket of Lady’s Finger for. 

What ... Lady’s Finger ? asks the British farmer, a little perplexed.

The Indian software programmer tries the American variant and asks how much he was selling the basket of ‘Okra’ for.  

Since he figures that the British farmer did not quite get it, he points out the basket and asks the perplexed British farmer.

Oh ... Bhindi ... that one is two baskets for three pounds, I can make it three for three  mate.... the British farmer attempts to strike a quick bargain.  

The Indian software programmer smiles.

Sure ... the world is more Indian than we think.

               
Based on a true incident at the Hounslow farmer's market.
This post is submitted as part of Lufthansa's More Indian than you think.

Please watch the latest commercial from LUFTHANSA on More Indian than you think.






Shine

Shine

Waking up to the Sunshine in its myraids colours just at the onset of dawn on a grey overcast day.









This post is submitted for the Thursday photo challenge where the theme is shine

This post is submitted for Five minute free write 
This post is also a part of Write Tribe Problogger 



Friday, October 10, 2014

Care

Care 

It is only a tiny seed that randomly sprouted in the pot.
But it is precious.  
It’s ancestor came home in November as a part of the baggage of seeds and saplings picked up at the government guest house in Belur.

While many saplings never survived, these magenta and orange balsam seeds  sprouted and spread colour and joy in our little balcony garden.  

Of the many saplings that flowered none really yielded seeds. It looked like the living memories from Belur would become extinct. 

That is when one plant started flowering and looked like yielding seeds. It was a recipient of lot of care and affection that we nourished it, gathered its seeds and propogated the next generation of Balsam saplings.

Here is one of them.  I care for it, watch it grow every morning and evening.
When you care for another living being, its gives it back multifold. 
This is when words do not matter.  Because that is a feeling that is beyond  vocabulary.        

 



This post is submitted for Five minute free write 
This post is also a part of Write Tribe Problogger 



Thursday, October 09, 2014

JOIN

Join


Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a nation wide initiative in India to make India, particularly Indian cities a cleaner place to live in, within the next five years. 

We need local communities to join and take constructive steps to tackle the situation of cleanliness of the public spaces in the neighbourhood. The basic civic sense of seggregating garbage at source so that it can be disposed responsibly is a discipline that needs to be drilled in our psyche to tackle this problem.

If you live in India please join hands in enrolling with your local community to form citizen circles in your neighbourhood to tackle this problem and to do your bit in keeping your neighbourhood clean.

Here is an invite that can garner your local community to participate in this initiative. 

  
 
Ministry Of Urban Development (Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan)
Ministry Of Urban Development (Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan) shared a new resource in "Swachh Bharat".
Subject: Tagging or Inviting 9 Contacts.
Dear Friends, 

In line with the Prime Minister's model of inviting 9 people to commit to cleanliness, we request each one of you to invite 9 of your contacts (preferably from your neighborhood or city) to this circle. 

You can invite your contacts by sharing the attached or by simply sending the invite link below via whatsapp, sms, email or social networks. 

http://tinyurl.com/qgoejsr 

As we roll out local Swachh Bharat circles, you and these contacts will automatically be placed in that circle. 

Thanks again for your commitment to the cause of Swachh Bharat! 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

SAY

SAY ...

If you are happy and feeling good ... Say
Say ... I am Happy.
If you feel love for your near and dear ... say .
Say ... I Love you.
If you feel Gratitude for all the good things that have come to you... Say
Say ... Thank you.
If you feel used and exploited ... Say
Say...Stop it.
If you are feeling sick and Tired ... Say
Say ...Give me  a break
If you are feeling miserable and guilty ... Say 
Say ... I am sorry

Say it .. today and now

For you will never know when it might be too late.   



Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Go...


Go ... visit a new place every year
Go... befriend someone whom you have’nt met before
Go... Drive  a different route this weekend
Go... pick up a book at random
Go... bring a smile in someone’s life today
Go... do something.
Go..Get a life

  


Five Minute Free Writes button

Monday, October 06, 2014

Know...

KNOW

She just knew.
There was no vocabulary to describe it.
There was no precedence in recorded history known.
She knew it because her instinct told her so.
She knew it because she felt it and perceived it.
And yet could not describe it in words, because there was no vocabulary that could describe it.
Knowing is not always tangible.
Even if it cannot be put in words, described with an example, backed with evidence or tagged as a pattern, it is still a fact.
A fact that is not yet widely known, discovered or acknowledged by the world.
      




Five Minute Free Writes button

Sunday, October 05, 2014

STUCK



STUCK 

Deluge of emails, meaningless meetings and zombied existence.
I am not complaining.  It pays my bills and takes care of my mortgage.
But every once in a while I cannot help when that inner spirit rears its head and asks me ....
Being stuck in a rut  ... is it worth wasting a lifetime just so you pay your mortgage !!!         





Today's prompt is STUCK . 





Friday, October 03, 2014

UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS - The flower seller



UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS - The Flower seller 

As a 5 year old girl, Nethra would come back from school and spend the evening helping her mother at the makeshift shack where her mother sold flower garlands to the devotees who thronged the adjacent Shanishwara temple. On Saturdays,  the auspicious day for Lord Shanishwara the footfall of devotees would be particularly high and Nethra would help doing small errands for her mother helping with the customers at the flower stall.  
The footfall at the temple was dwindling because of frenzy of roadworks that cut off the approach to the temple for all the regular devotees who would come on foot or alight at the nearby bus stand.  It was a shack that her mother had set up to do business for as long as Nethra could remember.  
Construction work for the flyover bridge that would cut across the railway track and build an approach road to the other side of town was in full swing.  In anticipation of the flyover bridge the builders had already grabbed lands that were erstwhile factory godowns to build multi-storeyed apartment buildings and office complexes on the other side of the railway track. 


Selling garlands made of fresh flowers, was the business that helped them meet the ends.  As Nethra grew up and attained puberty, there was increasing pressure on her mother from the neighbourhood, not to let the young attractive girl attend to the customers. 
It was a pressure that her mother reluctantly gave into. 
Money was scarce and the business at the shack where she sold flowers near the temple was not doing well except for a few devotees who still braved their way through all the construction works and came to the temple. It was at this point in time that Nethra took to being a domestic help washing dishes and clothes at the nearby houses. Her education had stopped after secondary school.
Years of hard work took a toll on her mother in the form of ill health. When Nethra was in her late teens her mother died leaving behind a shattered daughter whose future would hang at the mercy of relatives and neighbours. 
It was in these trying times Nethra met the young Manjunatha and fell in love with him. 
Just at the time when her relatives from the extended family and the neighbourhood moral police started getting a whiff of romance sprouting about, the couple decided to run away and set up home and livelihood far away from the prying eyes of the relatives and neighbours.
The bridge over the flyover had now been inaugurated and the lush green landscape  that was home to factory godowns, quaint farmhouses and huge tracts of rose farms that fuelled the floriculture business opened up to embrace the  development of the city.  It was to Thubarahalli, 10 kms away, on the other side of the railway tracks across the flyover bridge that they ran away to set up home after getting married at the temple where her mother sold flower garlands long time ago.
Manjunatha did odd jobs to earn a living and they set up home. Their daughter was born the next year. With the high tide of prosperity that swept due to the development all around them, he  managed to lease an autorickshaw, drove around and was earning decent money.  Their son was born four years later and by now Manjunatha’s income from the autorickshaw was falling short for the family of four.

Nethra, who had always been economically independent even since her mother died, found it hard to nag her husband for money to meet household expenses especially when she knew that he was doing all he could to make the ends meet.
The Venkateshwara  temple at Thubarahalli had been built and inaugurated two years ago. Manjunatha was the loyal and trustworthy auto driver who would ferry the grandchildren of the temple’s trustee to school everyday. The temple trustee had owned the vast stretches of agricultural land in the area. He sold a good portion of his agricultural land when the government sanctioned permission for construction of a planned residential layout. As he made good money selling his land, he donated a portion of the land for building the temple in exchange of being designated as the managing trustee for the temple.


Nethra sensed the business opportunity. She sent in a word through Manjunatha and asked if she could set up a mobile cart that would sell flower garlands near the temple. While the temple trustee agreed and gave his blessings for the business, opposition came in the form of two other carts who had already set up business.
A third entrant into the same business would eat up their market share. There was no organized set-up to regulate the hawkers and hangers-on who could set do business around the temple that was now a popular public attraction set amidst the plush residential colony with many devotees that thronged the temple.
Nethra knew she was a late entrant.  Unlike her mother who had a monopoly near the Shaneeshwara temple, she was sceptical if she would be able to do business unhindered with two other competitors who had already set up their cart in the vicinity in the last two years.  Moreover there was no guarantee, that other hawkers and flower sellers would not follow in the future.
She persisted because she instinctively judged that she had an advantage.  It was a business she knew like the back of her hand. She knew the potential that the business held with growing population and prosperity in the area.   She, through her husband had the blessings of the temple trustee. On the side, Nethra had already grabbed an informal  contract to clean up the temple premises and draw ‘ rangoli’  every morning for a meagre but fixed salary for the temple.  
Determined, she elbowed her way through, and set up her cart right in the middle with the other two vendors who had already set up their carts and were doing brisk business selling flowers, coconuts and other items to the devotees who thronged the temple.
Nethra paid the price for pushing her way through. As an aftermath of a violent and ugly showdown in public amongst the three cart vendors, news reached the local police station. She along with the other two vendors were summoned to the police station.  
Like most workers in the unorganized sector she and the other two vendors bribed the local police and bought peace on the condition that they would not create any more problems.  Realizing that the blood sucking police would now demand a good deal of their profits in the form of bribe or confiscate their entire inventory, the three vendors decided to peacefully co-exist by setting up their carts at three different corners of the temple entrance and as far away from each other, so that the footfall of devotees who came to the temple  ended up doing equal business with each of them.

In order to be fair they also decided that each one of them would rotate and position their cart at the other’s positions every week so that  they all got a fair share of footfall as the devotees came to the temple.

This works well for the three of them. Although they do good business they pay some money to the local police every now and then. It serves two purposes.  One, the police does not make life miserable for them and moreover there is a guarantee albeit a temporary one, that a fourth entrant would not get into their business. With the protection money they pay the local police, it would get extremely difficult for a fourth competitor to get in and eat into their market share. If that ever happened, they are all too well aware that the fragmented market share would make business extremely unviable for all of them.


Paying the bribe to the local police is somewhat  like renewing the licence to operate a reasonably profitable business. This is probably an unwritten rule of law in the unorganized sector all over.      In a slightly altered manner it is the same fundamentals with which businesses operate in the organized sector as well.  Only difference being, it is not called bribe, but licence fee, that is usually given to the ones that have significant muscle power, capital and political connections apart from the ability to operate business.
 
The business of flowers is a very fragile one. Like vegetables and fruits it is a perishable commodity with a shelf life that lasts not more than 3-4 days. However unlike  vegetables and fruits which are essential commodities needed for everyday consumption, flowers are less so.  The demand for flowers is seasonal and varies depending upon times when there are major festivals or occasions. 

Following the rules of free market economics, prices of flowers also fluctuate depending on demand and supply.
Stocking an inventory of flowers has to be far more accurate that many other commodities, because it perishes in no time. This may lead to huge losses if not planned properly.


Three days a week, Nethra and her husband drive down to the city wholesale market at 3 am to buy fresh flowers. By the time it is about 6 am, Nethra and her competitors  have already set up their cart and would be busy making garlands out of the loose flowers for the devotees who start coming to the temple.  On a normal day Nethra buys about 2-4 kgs of flowers of different kinds and sells the finished product at a margin of about 30-40%.

On Saturdays, festival days and other days when it is an auspicious occasion at the temple, she would raise her inventory to about 10 -15 kgs anticipating a very high demand. On such days the flowers also sell expensive at the city wholesale market owning to increased demand. 

Her margin on those days is not unusually high although the volume of sales increases substantially.

One such day is the eve of Vijayadasami. The ninth day of the Navaratri festival.

The footfall of devotees has just begun for the evening. Nethra has her stall set up with not just her usual flowers and garlands but also coconuts, betel leaves and banana tree saplings. They would sell like hot cakes in the next couple of hours as devotees stop by to buy them for the next day’s dasami pooja at home.

A Skoda stops by, rolls down the window and the customer asks Nethra for the price of different flowers on display. Stunned at the exhorbitant cost for a marigold garland the customer tries his hand at bargaining. Nethra is firm today. She tells them that she is literally selling at cost price and that the wholesale market is selling flowers at Rs. 600  a kg. Realizing that there cannot be a bargain stuck today, the customer from the car buys all his pooja essentials for the next day and moves on.

As he drives on, Nethra’s mobile rings and the customer at the other end is enquiring about prices and the stock.  A couple of minutes later she is telling her the items she wants and Nethra packs them together in a plastic bag while simultaneously speaking to the customer in Tamil.

Meanwhile, a couple, probably new migrants into the neighbourhood walk up and buy some flowers before getting into the temple. Nethra  effortlessly converses with them in Hindi while seamlessly shifting to Kannada, Telugu and Tamil with all her other regular customers with complete ease.  To one of her customers she replies in broken English mixed with Hindi and a tinge of Kannada accent.

Meanwhile her husband drives past in his autorickshaw and parks for a minute across the road.  She quickly crosses the road and hands him over the items packed in the plastic bag meant for the customer that had called over on her mobile sometime ago. In a few minutes he would home deliver the items after dropping his current customers.   

       
A pile of banana tree saplings and gunny sacks full of marigold flowers are lying behind the cart.  As her stock of banana tree saplings on display in front of the cart has been sold out, she opens the pile to stock up a few more. She is careful that the fresh flowers are prominently displayed and the banana tree saplings and unsightly coconuts do not hide the view. 

According to Nethra, from the vantage point of the customer, apparently the freshness of jasmine buds, the delicate pink colour of the Arali  flowers and colourfulness of the orange and yellow marigold, is what makes the customers eyeballs linger, just a while longer at her shop and eventually choose to do business over there.  It is a split second decision between choosing to buy from one of the three vendors and apparently the customer psyche is usually won over by the cart where the display is bright, colourful and fresh. The unsightly pile of coconuts and banana tree saplings are also on display, but are stacked carefully by the side and replenished from time to time from the stock behind the cart.

In the world of big business are these not the same fundamentals that business consultants from the big four consulting firms are commissioned by the supermarkets, retail giants along with advertising experts to carefully study to determine customer psyche and buying patterns. 

Nethra, a high school drop out, fully puts them to use in her own way in accordance with the local customer preference, prevailing sentiment and demand. One cannot help but notice that Nethra’s cart attracts far more customers than the other two in the vicinity.
It is about 7.30 pm and in a short while the temple would close for the day. The footfall of devotees has trickled down considerably and the activity around the temple has now quietened down. 

Nethra begins to pack up her cart, while setting aside the more expensive and delicate perishables like the fragrant jasmine and roses in a big airy bag, while covering up all the rest underneath the porous plastic sheet and tying it up with sturdy ropes. She calls it a day when her husband’s autorickshaw stops by beside the cart. Before getting into the autorickshaw, she loads her left over inventory  of delicate flowers that would be stacked into their refrigerator at home.


Tommorrow would be another day. 

Tommorrow, they would start off at 3 am to the City wholesale market while the aged relative who now lives with them in their two room tenement would get the children (now aged 12 and 8) ready for school while Nethra and her husband would go about their daily business.     





This post is submitted for Write Tribe - pro blogger October Series

This is the tenth in the Feature - UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS

click the following to read the previous features

UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS - The Taxi Driver

UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS - The Janitor 



Thursday, October 02, 2014

It happens only in India


It happens only in India


Our roads and  public spaces say it loud and clear. 
As Indians civic sense is certainly not one of our strong points. 

If lack of civic sense  tops the chart, our irreverence to our history and heritage comes close second. 
It is not as if we do not dwell on our past.  We worship our ancestors and their passing every year in the form of Shrardham.
We worship  mythoglogial  forms of gods and goddesses whose versions  differ in form and shape all over the country . We have even managed to riot, kill fellow human beings , topple governments and go on country wide protests to  stake our claim on the birthplace of a mythological figure.

But when it comes to preserving our heritage sites or knowing about history closer home,  it just seems like a waste of time and value. 

Cochin house - College Road Chennai 

















It was amidst these two pillars that formed the gate of the bungalow of the then British Resident of the Madras Presidency in the late 1800's. It is here  that the city's rich and colourful heritage took shape.

While Cochin house itself has been completed destroyed to give way to police department's staff quarters, this entrance to the only two standing strcuctures of the heritage site have been made unapproachable by garbage and piles of freshly laid human excreta strewn all along at 6.30 a.m in the morning.

About 200 meters from here is the current consulate for United kingdom in Chennai housed in another heritage site, far less dilapidated. Since it has limited access and heavily guarded for security reasons it suffers far less humiliation that this one.  














The Indian  irreverence on any effort to restore and preserve heritage buildings can be extremely disheartening if only we cared a little more to respect the public spaces of the past  Here is a heritage building along the river Cooum of the erstwhile university building off College road that was renovated by Microsoft.

The picture says it all.

Our 'we-do;not-care-two-hoots' attitude to the corporate house’s gesture towards preserving the heritage site.

On the other hand we are a nation where newly constructed temples spring up overnight exactly in places where road expansions are planned and the list of donors who poure  out all their black money is painted on the walls  of the structure.


Here is wishing 
'Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan' 
to take off in all earnestness cutting across political lines . 

India badly needs some sustainable Spring cleaning.

If all goes well, in five years this blog post title would change to " It happened then in India' .


This post is submitted for Write Tribe pro bloggers - october 



I am participating in the NaBloPoMo October 2014 
I am participating in the Write Tribe Pro Blogger October 2014
   

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Eh... Madrasi !!!!!


The Modest Madrasi.

Chennai is a city, which as described in the words of Biswajit Ghosh in his book Tamarind city is 'irritatingly modest'.   Pompousness just is’nt part of the Madrasi's DNA.

While the Madrasi's modest disposition cannot be generalized since there are noteworthy exceptions all the time ,  it is not very unusual to come across a Madrasi, take him /her for granted and then realize that the fellow is probably far advanced that many. Looks are deceptive.  And the Madrasi takes utmost care to groom himself or herself to makes sure he/ she is dressed up to deceive.

While modesty by itself is a worthy enough virtue to be emulated, it made the Non resident Madrasi  who migrated to make a  living in other parts of the country  overly stereotyped.  A Madrasi would be stereotyped  to being a risk averse sissy and a timid Work horse who hesitated to demand his dues.
A Madrasi is a darling of many a skeptical north Indian landlords, for he comes with zero headaches if you rented your house to him unlike the local tenants. I certainly can vouch for that.  In the early 80's when we lived in Pune, every time when Appa’s  bank would revise the House rent allowance (HRA), Appa would proactively inform Kunjeer uncle, the landlord asking him ask for a hike in the rent. What I did not know then is that the entire clan was made of similar stuff...

Apart from being simple and straightforward at heart, the Madrasi is normally very frugal. You may even call him miserly and a penny pincher. He won't take offence and would most probably agree with you. It takes a lot for the materialistic world to set the bait that would trap the Modest Madrasi.

This is the concluding  part of Eh... Madrasi and I know I have digressed much more that what a certain Christopher Columbus did when he set out to sail for India.

In part 1 of Eh... Madrasi, I had started with saying ...

'It was a city I loved to hate ... It is always a city I would love to hate.'

It is with such mixed feelings that I travel down to Chennai to take part in a couple of its heritage walks. Most Heritage walks in other cities, are largely attended by foreigners or atleast tourists and visitors from other cities.
In a Chennai heritage walk, (or atleast the ones that I went for) the walkers were a motley bunch of Chennaites.    Tamil speaking Madrasis from all over the world  and also from Chennai.    

That Chennai, like most cities with tons of history and culture buried underneath its streets, dilapidated or destroyed structures and people has decided to actually talk about it. This was certainly heartwarming. 

The message from the Heritage walk was this.

Chennai,(the home of the true Madrasi) has decided to shed its modesty and showcase its heritage.
This was where many events that turned the history of India began.

( Oye you Calcuttans .. we listened to all that you bragged about being home to all those nobel laureates. Now it is your time to listen to our claim to fame)
  Chennai was home to Cornwallis and to Lord Clive before they moved northwards to conquer.
This was the city that housed the Exiled king Theebaw of Burma and his family before they were sent off to Ratnagiri, then a sleepy town overlooking the  Arabian sea in Maharasthra.
It was the city that housed the first observatory in India which surveyed and created the map of India. The next observatory was then set up in Nagpur, central India, from where George Everest  moved on to survey amongst many other mundane things the highest peak of the world which incidentally got named after him.

This was the city that showed the world that the cut throat and capital intensive businesses of medical research could be done with a charitable approach and still make sound business sense. The Sankara eye hospital and the Madras medical mission and their pioneering and pathbreaking research combined with  philanthropic approach in getting cost competitive and quality eye surgeries and heart surgeries done at affordable cost has indeed left the business of medical professionals stunned the world over.

I came back, secure in the knowledge, that there actually was a lot of pride associated with being called Eh... Madrasi.

Eh ... Madrasi ... !!! you rock.  



   This post is submitted as part of Write Tribe - Pro blogger - October




I am participating in the NaBloPoMo October 2014 
I am participating in the Write Tribe Pro Blogger October 2014

Eh... Madrasi !!!!


MADRASI AND THE FILTER KAAPI ....

The Madrasi that I am, needless to say, I grew up in a household of coffee drinkers. 
As far as Coffee drinking goes I am the black sheep in the family. Am not much of a coffee drinker.
 I can savour a cup of coffee just as obligingly as one drinks a potion of ‘kashayam’ or ’castor oil’. 

Many a times Paatti ( grandmother)  has expessed her deep concern as to what a hopeless daughter –in-law I might turn out to be, if I did not know how to serve a satisfying tumbler of Filter coffee to my in-laws. ( Thankfully I have’nt been subjected to that ordeal ).

In a Madrasi household , Coffee is not a just a beverage , it is a way of life. 

The’ degree kaapi’, needs to be piping hot, made out of fresh milk, freshly ground coffee seeds with the right amount of chicory powder at 5.30 am in the morning and then at regular intervals through the day. In the morning just as the milkman delivers the milk and the local temple blares out MS and her signature ‘venkatesha suprabhatam’ much to the irritation of the youngsters who watched a late night movie and have just managed sleep a couple of hours ago, the decoction is brewed in a coffee filter.
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee lingers around the house around the same time as the bird’s screech their lungs out and the orange colour of dawn breaks out from the grey sky and announces the arrival of yet another day.
The ‘filter kaapi’ served in a steel tumbler placed inside a ‘davara’ held in one hand is best
savoured with 'The Hindu’ newspaper on the other .
The aroma, taste and quality of filter ‘degree’ coffee remains undiluted and unchanged in its standards in most ‘Madrasi' households to this day. 

It was therefore with a slight trepidation that I took my Madrasi parents to a Starbucks café .

 With the knowledge I do have about the exacting standards of coffee they are used to, I ordered for them expresso coffee, that would be the closest possible resemblance to the one and only form of coffee that they recognize and acknowledge as ‘kaapi’.
When the orders were ready and called out at the counter, I went and fetched the tray . We settled into the couch as I poured out the coffee, some milk and reached out for some sugar and stirrer from across the couch at the self service counter. I prepared and handed out the coffee to them and settled down to sip my vanilla flavoured iced tea .
From across the couch my father looked at the board over the self service counter that listed the menu of a 30 different varieties of coffee being served and he asked me which was the one they were having.
'Esspresso – hot' I replied.
He digressed into a pensive mood for a moment and did some mental maths.
He said he did’nt quite get it. ‘If you have to fetch your own decoction from the counter, pour a few teaspoonfuls of cold milk and add the sugar on your own, then what are you paying him all the money for? 

Which fool comes here to have coffee when Sri Krishna Vilas or Madras café  would serve you a much better concoction, piping hot and that too within minutes.

Is this just bad customer service or is there more to it?



Eh Madrasi ... Part 5 to be continued.
If this post in itself doesn ot make much sense to you

Click here to read part one Eh Madrasi !