Monday Morning Musings

Posted on March 27, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

Master mixologist



“ It doesn’t matter where you’re from, or how you feel… there’s always peace in a strong cup of coffee.” Gabriel Ba.

On Saturday afternoon, my Irish friends asked me to join them for a walk. We usually don’t walk together as we always like to have someone minding the Bed and Breakfast. However, with the imminent departure from India by the three of us, the Sisters are starting to bring in replacements.

In every village, town and city in India, the tea shops are ubiquitous. It’s hard to go fifty feet without someone beckoning you for a “ chai.” Most, if not all of these, are family run businesses and are often multi generational. India is famous for its tea but make no mistake, there are many coffee lovers as well.

Despite the fact that I was able to secure a reliable source of fair trade coffee a few months ago and now make my own,  there’s still something sociable about visiting one of these small shops and having a coffee or two.

When I arrived in India last October, I remember the first time that I asked for a black coffee at one of these shops. I thought it was a language barrier thing that the proprietor had a puzzled look on his face. I found out later that “ filtered” coffee is quite rare unless one goes to a higher end restaurant. So, I accepted the coffee that I was given. It was served in a shot glass. And so began my love affair with drinking coffee…. Indian style. It is made with boiled milk, a scoop full of coffee and some sugar. It is expertly prepared,  the hot liquid being poured from one vessel to another to make sure the concoction is mixed properly.

As mentioned, there are hundreds of these shops. Early on in my time in Kanyakumari, I found one place that was fairly new. It is partially outdoors and exposed to the elements. There are no tables or chairs. All of the patrons simply stand. Because the serving size is small, there is hardly time to carry on a long conversation unless of course, you decide to have more than one. I immediately liked the feel of the place and decided that this would be my “ go to” place. I have gone there just about everyday since I discovered it.

Did I mention their treats? Sri Devi ( named for the goddess Lakshmi ) , the name of the establishment, also serves goodies both sweet and savory. Cookies, pieces of cake and assorted Indian delicacies are placed in large glass jars with lids. The jars are conveniently located on the counter and once you become “ a regular,” you just help yourself.

The owners are in their fifties and they have several sons who serve the customers. They don’t know a word of English. They smile and gesture. This doesn’t require language skills.

On one of my first walks with Ninian, he told me about his favorite coffee spot. Obviously great minds think alike .

My routine is well rehearsed. I show up at Sri Devi wearing my Tilley hat, perspiring profusely. After all, it has been in the 30’s every day since my arrival in December. I doff my hat, placing it on top of a large pile of bottled water encased in plastic. I waltz over to the counter and once eye contact is made with any member of the staff, the person making coffee swings into action, making my coffee with care and precision… with just the right amount of sugar. A hot shot glass full of steaming coffee is placed on the counter. I dip my hand into one of the large glass jars and extricate a cookie. Depending on the day, this may be repeated two or three times.

You know this is a well run business as there are always people walking up to the counter to get their daily fix. Coffee, tea and treats are not the only items for sale. You can buy cigarettes but these are typically dispensed one smoke at a time. In this part of India, smoking doesn’t seem to be prevalent.

I usually have both cell phones with me: one to tether and the other to check mail etc. One day, while I was looking at some photos, one of the staff came over to look. It was a quiet time of the day and the next thing, I had the whole extended family craning their necks to see pictures of my family and my hometown. A picture is worth a thousand words… more if you don’t speak Tamil.

It’s a wonderful place to spend a few minutes and watch the world pass by. They asked me through an interpreter about opening a shop in Canada. Once I described February, they didn’t think franchising to Canada would be a great idea!

They always give a big wave when I`m leaving. And I wave back.

New friends.

 Worlds apart but closer than one might think.

Have a great week.


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