Friday, September 05, 2008

A Major Food Group

I have a special fondness for the open air Barista on MG Road. The big orange umbrellas, shards of sun making weird patterns on the tiles, the wind getting tangled in one’s hair, the cigarette smoke curling lazily above our heads to dissipate with gusts of blustery weather, the foot-tapping music that makes me want to get up at random moments and dance around, and the high intensity of energy that fills the air.

It’s not just the coffee, I admit. I’m drawn to the whole experience. Sitting there for hours on end, discussing anything and everything, drinking cup and cup of coffee, taking it in turns to ensure people don’t ask us, albeit politely, to leave.

Close friends and family, body language relaxed and easy, laughing hysterically at god-alone-knows-what. Talking of things that one talks about only with those we are close to, knowing there is no judgment, no pressure.

Then suddenly, the conversations veer off on a tangent. The posture changes… urgent, eager, private. Listeners and talkers, simultaneously. It’s a closed circle, low tones directly stating different points of views, ways to figure out tight situations. And after a while, that’s over. People watching, languid moods and peaceful silences take over.

When I was a little girl – well, littler than I am now, at any rate – I had this poster in my room. As far as I remember, some of us friends had made them…yes, MADE.. it was our own thoughts and desires, regurgitated forth in all its squiggly glory on fancy paper. It said, simply,
The 5 Major Food Groups
- Caffeine
- Nicotine
- Protein
- Alcohol
- Cholesterol

The parents yoyo-ed between disgust, suspicion and amusement for a while, finally settling on the latter.

Those food groups didn’t really change over the years.. they merely increased or decreased in order of priority and percentage over time. Today, I can happily claim I’m a coffee addict. It’s almost indescribable. The smell of roasted coffee beans in a perfume shop, the aroma of freshly made coffee smells wafting in the air. We had this ritual in my old office, where we friends would gather in our open air cafeteria, first thing as soon as we all got into work. Each of us had our preferences; my poison was caffeine to get me awake and charged up to face the day. It never failed.

I think I will introduce that in my new job; feel almost “half of me” without it.

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