It is a matter of priorities, and I know, it is a sad state of affairs when these priorities revolve around coffee and tea, after my children of course. But there it is…
Shortly before I set off on my travels, my daughter asked me what I would miss most and although I cannot remember the exact answer, but suspect it may have been coffee, she felt offended that I had not put my children first on the list.. I am lucky at the moment and have good internet (provided there is electricity of course) so that Skype and Facetime conversations flow mostly without hiccups. They cover the barrier of the distance so well that one day when I suddenly, amidst a conversation, exploded about ‘two lizards being at it on the ceiling’ – I am sure this one is not covered in the Kama Sutra -, my daughter laughed and remarked she had completely forgotten I was actually talking to her from India… My children are very much part of my life here.
So, Saturday morning the inevitable happened and my dwindling supply of Douwe Egberts coffee finally ran out. My Darjeeling tea brought from England has not lasted this long and the replacement I bought a few weeks ago, after some searching, consisted mainly of black tea with only 10% Darjeeling. It pays to read the small print… And the local supermarket indeed stocks ‘powder coffee’ but this contains so much chicory, it should be forbidden to call itself coffee!!!
However, the internet and blogging has a strange effect and connects you to people you have never met but soon become fixtures in the landscape of our life. So it is that Elisabeth from Bhopal has taken pity on me and as a fellow Belgian is partial to a cup of proper coffee and having strong links to India understands the temptation of proper Darjeeling tea. She is giving me a helping hand in my quest to sort out my priorities and find good coffee and Darjeeling tea in India. She is kindly sending me a parcel.
In the meantime, I had my monthly trek to Trivandrum by air-conditioned car (bliss…) on Saturday to replenish my cupboards with Western essentials such as toilet paper, peanut butter, proper yoghurt and exotic fruits including papaya and melons… However this time, there was the added mission of getting hold of unadulterated ground coffee. I was put on a possible track by Elisabeth, who has more knowledge of Indian culture than me and has her sources. The coffee chain, Café Coffee Day, sells packets of 100% Arabica coffee, so if I could find one of the outlets, there was hope and indeed, a Google search suggested I had two or three options in town and failing that, I could actually order coffee on the internet, but this would mean putting my faith in the Indian postal and other delivery services. Unfortunately a visit to both establishments in town only revealed that there is no demand for proper coffee in Kerala. I might like to try the Indian Coffee House, a customer in Café Coffee Day kindly hinted, as they grind coffee in your presence. Off we went, brakes screeching, hurtling into the oncoming traffic in the opposite direction to find that the Indian Coffee House only sold packets of coffee mixed with chicory… I could feel a bout of depression bubble to the surface.
But my driver decided his Indian pride could not let down a Western ‘tourist’ – having collected me from a 5* hotel, he had no idea I was merely a poor mortal with few financial assets to boast about – and was not about to give up. Whereas I was more than ready to give up on a lost cause and return home, the driver got on his phone and made a few phone calls and within minutes had located a possible supplier of proper coffee. Another U-turn and speeding up the road took us to a small shop opposite the shopping mall where I bought most of life’s essentials. And hooray, we found it! A tiny shop radiating the seductive smell of freshly ground coffee. I could choose my beans, which were carefully ground before being put into a little bag… And to put the icing on the cake, there it was in front of me on the shelf: Darjeeling leaf tea.
So to celebrate the fact that life’s priorities had been tended to, I had the perfect lunch: a cup of coffee, followed by a cup of Darjeeling tea and the most delectable Indian sweets…