I grew up with the abomination of instant coffee and tea bags until my 24th birthday. My mother would occasionally serve percolated coffee, but on the whole, Nescafe and Twinnings were the staples in our home. Daddy preferred juice or milk in general, opting for coffee only if he had been on consecutive night duties and was struggling to stay awake. Our years in Kenya exposed us to tea, which is something we all managed to agree on, albeit varying degrees of sweetness.
Then I set foot in Germany for the first time in 1992 and my concept of brewed coffee changed forever, followed by 12 years of life in India that made me a loose tea snob. So if you ever rummage around my kitchen to pick up different clues about my persona, there are two things you will never find – a jar of instant coffee and tea bags. Both are banned for life (and so is the yellow Maggi seasoning bottle). I strongly believe in going through the effort of brewing a coffee or tea the proper way, letting the flavours seep in and releasing the aromas as they were intended when roasted or dried.
It is about going through the motions, not cutting corners, and being mindful of the steps involved. We live in an age when everything happens at the tap of a screen, the push of a button, or the drop of a text. I want to bring back (not return to) the time when children played without any electronics involved, when we took time to write letters, watching a movie meant going out with friends or a date and not curling up alone on a sofa with Netflix, when courtship was still part of the discovery process, when matching referred to socks and outfits – and not to Tinder members, and community service meant a preferential option for the poor, not social media management.
Serve me a coffee that has been prepared with care and time, or a cup of tea measured with generosity, or tell me stories of resilience and the inherent goodness of a community. If it takes longer because you have to dig something up, or try to remember the details without the aid of Google, all the better. As long as it comes from the heart and is written by life and the soul.
We are only living half of our lives the more time we spend online and hide behind virtual realities. Social media followers – they are not friends you can run to when you only have loose change left in your wallet. Those large amounts of likes for your Instagram won’t build character, and you certainly can’t buy kindness and selflessness on Amazon or ebay. We have conveniently unlearned human interaction, watering it all down with a quick text or an unstructured email. So although #lockdown2020 may usher in the biggest economic disaster of the century, and for many also the greatest political disaster to ever cross their path, but it has also been a much needed wake-up call to re-examine values and structures that have been allowed to take over the world and been deemed as acceptable, simply because they are there.
Just because something exists doesn’t make it right. Careers, social obligations, political leanings, geographical distances are no excuse to stop being kind, caring, helpful community members. Just because a particular service or item, is available online doesn’t mean it must be encouraged. I dream of waking up to the smell of honestly brewed realities, a world where individuality is respected, differences are embraced, and witnessing necessary changes seep in no matter how difficult the exposure is.