Mocha and Mathematics on MG Road

(A return to the painful rambling style of writing I thought I’d done away with)

“Tell me” said Harry, “the secret behind your startlingly long beard. Is it real or simply a spectacular fake. Come to think of it, is all this real or have I eaten too many questionable mushrooms of late” 

“Well, Harry” said Dumbledore. “As beards grow, this is as real as it can get. And indeed you could aim to be more cautious about the fungi you eat, however why should that mean anything ?”

said wise J.K Rowling, or some thing to that effect, maybe more concisely. 

Since my daily day at home was falling into a beautiful routine of getting up early, staring at various walls and ceilings and saying a hello to an awkward lizard with socializing skills more terrible than mine, coaxing my mother to give me coffee not quite the color of milk and assuring her I was not hopelessly addicted to caffeine, watching a beaming avuncular cherub give excellent predictions about the rest of the day for each and every member of the society with my grandmother on TV while promising my father that I would most definitely accompany him for the morning walk from the next day onwards  and then drifting into a most engaging activity of doing absolutely nothing while assuaging my conscience by keeping heavy books of mathematics very very close to me and glancing at the covers from time to time, I decided that the day had come to get out of the house, find coffee and chocolate, and do mathematics as all the really cool people do, sitting at cafes and scribbling on napkins.

Choosing MG Road as the location for my pursuit of coffee and activity was really a no brainer (in every sense of the phrase probably), for really it is about the only place in Bangalore I know how to get to without hopelessly consulting huge maps and getting royally ripped off by auto-wallas. The day began with a sense of triumph which comes after a hard five minutes of working up enough energy to overcome my massive inertia to cross the lakshman rekha of my front door. After acquiring a massive dose of excited enthusiasm, I was ready and set to leave the house at 8:30 AM with a huge backpack, loaded with everything I might possibly need if I ever went on an expedition to the Arctics. My father gently tried hinting that people in Bangalore, especially people peopling shops and restaurants in MG Road probably considered 9:00 AM to be the crack of dawn. However, I shushed him and after an extremely enjoyable metro ride spent squinting at leafy tree tops dotted with flowers, brightly coloured, I was in Church Street at 9:00 AM. And except for a groggy dog which had just woken up after being doused by a bucket of cold water poured by a sweeper who was trying to clean the front steps of a coffee shop, the street was ghostly and quiet.

I walked into coffee shops (at least ones whose doors were not firmly shut) and belligerently demanded to know their opening times. The people at the counters were, by turns, apologetic, incredulous and extremely amused and promised me that they would *all* be open in ten minutes tops. However, since minutes were precious, I decided to scour around for at least one open coffee shop in this street apparently filled with a bunch of lotus eaters worse than the ones Ulysses ever encountered. And ended up in, of all places, a D* D* which was just opening up for the day, a franchise I had sworn I would never step into, after a disastrous coffee escapade across the seas a long time ago. And here I was drinking a watery white mocha (no, not white mocha but just mocha lighter than my mother’s coffee). I got out my computer, while loud English music (no, not British music. Just music with words which sounded vaguely like they belonged to the English language) played on, and determinedly stared at my .tex files while surreptitiously looking for free wifi (which was not available by the way) as the city slowly awoke and early commuters at the signal nearby stared through the window at me sweltering in a stuffy shop whose AC was just beginning to work.

Sure it wasn’t the best of starts, but I was not the one to give up and after an hour, wandered next door into C** (yet another coffee franchise whose customers I had always secretly pooh poohed at for drinking coffee with fancy names at foolishly high prices). The main attraction was the promised free wifi (they gave me an activation code and everything) and I very reluctantly ordered an Irish coffee (with cream) thinking maybe it might contain a shot of some er.. badly needed stimulant, being Irish and all that. Well, apparently, Irish coffee is plain old watery coffee with half a jug of doleful cream poured in. After ingesting a million calories, listening to the mellifluous sounds of the mixie..er.. coffee grinder hard at work powdering said coffee into dust, and cursing the wifi which did *not* work the first time and afterwards, refused to accept my activation code complaining that it was already in use, I was starting to miss the good old lizard at home and the matinee movie on KTV featuring a grim Vijayakanth coding away in MS Paint. However, I had vigorously told my mother that on no account should she expect me for lunch or tiffen. Even dinner was doubtful, as I would be hard at work chugging away real coffee for a change and proving all the theorems anyone could ever dream of. And if there’s one thing I detest (but at which I’m particularly good at), it is making tall claims and never fulfilling it. So I decided that I would tour this damn road once again, and find one place, grit my teeth and write one page though it might be nothing but gibberish, call it a day and go home.

After a devoted round or two of the place, finally I wandered into M* C* which has reportedly been open since year dot but which had just opened for the day, with two customers seated in throne-like bright red chairs looking a little scared by the majestic ambience and the fancy dim lights. I was told by the waitress (an extremely sensible woman) up front that wifi was supposedly available, however it was not working and that if I hung around till 3 PM, maybe I could watch it start thinking about the possibility of working for the remainder of the day. Since I pretty much behave the same way every day , I couldn’t find it in my heart to grumble and ordered my Mocha again with grim determination, even if it meant death at an early age by an overdose of chocolate and regally seated myself on the highest red chair available and glowered for no reason at the two customers now timidly eating pancakes and syrup for breakfast.

My Mocha came, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it coloured a satisfying murky marshy brown. Even the music blaring behind me only vaguely interrupted my pleasure at finally tasting coffee amidst all the sugary stuff floating around in the cup. I watched steam spiraling up from the fancy coffee maker dancing in tune to the sound of the coffee grinder which was still hard at work, marveling at the fact that maybe, just maybe, I had managed to stumble into a place where I could get some sort of work done.

Readers who have wandered down this page of pointless prose so far and who are too squeamish to think about the way the human body works or prefer happy endings might be better off taking off somewhere else to cool their heels and deceiving themselves into thinking I’d had the most productive day one could ever imagine, except maybe the gynecologist who delivers quadruplets from heavily pregnant mothers regularly. Readers made of sterner stuff, prepare yourself and read on, since you seem to suffer from masochism anyway.

You see, I’d quite forgotten that coffee, or rather the milk and the cream that go with it, just like 70% of this world consists of quite some water. And there’s a limit to how much coffee one can ingest without the bladder blubbering in protest. Well, you might ask, what about … (an embarrassing shuffle of feet here) bathrooms. Restrooms, as you might hurriedly amend, since they sound much less prosaic and much more genteel.

Now I am far from being one of the most capable people inhabiting this planet. But I do have some sterling qualities. I eat broccoli without protest, I even only very rarely, and that too silently, rage at boiled radishes and at Himesh Reshammiya’s movies. Using a restroom at a restaurant is really at the very tail end on my list of things I can do, but it *is* there. The problem you see is that the good people at M* C* were also extremely particular about the cleanliness of their washrooms and a most industrious cleaner was hard at work making the spick and span floors of the said washroom glisten, sparkle and gleam even more and indicated that it might well be lunchtime before he could manage to tear himself from all the polishing. Without a word, I got up, paid my bill and took the next bus back home, full of mocha but suspiciously free of any kind of mathematical thought.

Some things just aren’t meant to be, and me doing any work without someone breathing down my neck is one of them I guess.

 

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4 Comments on “Mocha and Mathematics on MG Road”


  1. Hahaha 😉 Naice dude! Good to see a post of this kind. Makes me all nostalgic for old blog 😛

  2. P Says:

    @Nandita: Just what I was thinking!

    Classic N. The return to the rambling style is much appreciated. 🙂


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