If you have lived in India for a few years, you would reckon the love Indians have for a cup of tea – Chai as we call it.
Be it kick starting your morning or refreshing your evening. Burning the midnight oil studying for exams or chit chatting with friends making weird plans. Breaking awkward silences or overcoming headaches. Catching up with your “not-so-chatty” co-workers or discussing appraisals with your manager, everything can happen over a cup of chai.
Apart from geographically relocating to another country from India, I had a huge paradigm shift from our beloved chai to its glamorous distant cousin – Coffee.
Honestly I did not have much of choice, I couldn’t make great tea during office hours in the pantry and none of the cafe around served chai. They did serve tea which was far from the “Indian” version of it. It was essentially a mug full of hot water with a tea bag. A couple of drops of milk to make it look nicer. Not my “cup of tea” for sure!
So reluctantly I order my first cup of coffee with 2 spoons of sugar. I got a nasty glare from the lady taking my order which my brains failed to process. The routine of ordering coffee kicked off and I was a recipient of such glares intermittently.
I gathered probably they are being racist towards me or they think I am being lazy not to throw in sugar myself from the bowl of sugar sachet displayed at the cash counter.
A couple of months down the line, I managed to make friends with western co-workers at my office. Soon, I was made aware of the fact that awkward co-worker conversations can also happen over a cup of coffee.
On one such occasion a co-worker friend of mine happened to eavesdrop my coffee order, “Whoa! You’re drinking sugar not coffee!”
The expression on his face was priceless. I bet mine was more pricier than his!
My long unrequited queries were finally answered. Realization dawned on me and I broke into a “Ohh that’s why they gave me those funny looks” kinda smile.
My co-worker was perplexed by now and gave me a “it’s-not-funny and take-your-sugar-levels seriously” lecture.
So I decided to give it a shot. I asked the kind lady waiting for my order behind the cash counter to make it 1 sugar instead of 2. She kept a poker face. First of its kind after a coffee order for me, I thought.
How did it taste you ask?
I actually paid for this??
All right, I could be exaggerating here, but trust me I was far from being happy.
“Give it some time, you got to develop the taste”, my co-worker countered studying my expressions, “you are now drinking coffee my friend, not sugar!”
Those words were revelation to my brains. I do not think I ever knew what coffee tasted like. It was like sleeping on a wooden bed without the mattress on. Hits you hard, throws away the comfort of your sleep but it’s good for your backbone.
Magically Facebook feeds came up with an article on hazards of consuming sugar a couple of days later. It was an eye opener.
It’s funny how the human body adapts to changes. I couldn’t imagine having anything less than 2 sugars in my daily dose of caffeine and today I cannot imagine asking for 2 sugars in my coffee. My reaction to someone placing a similar order is the same my co-worker had a year ago on my order. How things you read and hear can affect you is beyond our control and imagination.
From Chai to Coffee, from two sugars to none. Life is full of twisting puns!