In a lush green plantation in Coorg lurks a friendly ghost with a pocket watch, a mop of grey hair and a large, white mug of steaming hot black coffee. The apparition breathes in the deliciously deep aromas of medium roasted robusta coffee wafting from his mug as he waits, in anticipation, for a conversation with one who loves coffee as much as he did.
Read on for a whiff of the magic that transports Rahul and Neha to a world of dark brews and darker grudges!
The coffee was softly sweet and refreshing. And then, slowly, they sensed the nutty aroma—of walnuts, mild but deliciously bitter. Rahul knew from his readings about coffee that such a delicate sweetness could only come from a fully ripened coffee berry that had been carefully picked and pulped on the ground under bright, clean summer sunshine. Because then the richness of the raw soil would mingle with the golden heat of the sand and soak in the sun to create this rare, luxurious and nutty taste.
The myriad tastes of coffee continued to amaze him, each one so different from the previous and each teasing the senses so delicately. He decided to use this opportunity to educate Neha, who sat nice and close by his side.
‘How do you like the old lady’s coffee, Neha? Isn’t it so beautiful? Can you taste the walnuts?’
There was no response. So, he asked her again. He turned to find Neha sprawled across the cane sofa in deep slumber. She was awake a few minutes ago. When had she fallen asleep, that too so deeply? He shook her, but she was like a log, muscles locked and eyes shut.
Then, without any warning, he felt sleep overcome him too. From far away, it penetrated his body through his eyes, swimming in like a gentle cloud. It narrowed his eyes when it came in and brought a general sense of growing calm that wasn’t there seconds ago. There was a tender but overpowering silence that it cast on him, which was impossible to counter with words, hands or legs, because they were going dead too. In this twilight zone before deep sleep, the mind has no thoughts because it goes pleasantly numb in anticipation of the rest ahead. We love sleep, don’t we?
Rahul could feel himself levitating. He saw the coffee cup on the cane table going farther and farther away, initially a sharp image, but hazy after a few seconds. It then looked like the cup was being taken away by Pooviah or by someone else with a red and white turban; it did not really matter because within a few seconds he too was deep in sleep.
He woke up almost immediately, not in Cottabetta Bungalow or his familiar room in Mumbai, but in some place that looked like a very small café. There were people around him who looked like they were Japanese, seated on low wooden tables, speaking in Japanese and drinking coffee. The entire place smelt of coffee. Neha was there too, sitting by his side, her left hand resting softly on his lap. On the wall was a beautiful painting of a monkey on a horse, with Mount Fuji in the background. A lady in a red and golden kimono came around with white coffee mugs on a lovely looking oval wooden tray.
As the bright red of her dress approached them, she spoke in highly accented English. ‘Welcome back, Rahul-san and Neha-san. Will you have your usual coffee today?’ She then bowed before them. Are we in Japan? Rahul thought.
‘This story has its roots in my long-time love for coffee and a somewhat recent fascination for storytelling and magic realism.’ writes Harish Bhat, author of the bestselling book Tatalog and chairman of Tata Coffee Ltd.
Will Rahul and Neha’s intense love for the aromatic brew help them find their way on their bewildering quest? Read An Extreme Love of Coffee to find out!