Coffee Aayita? - 'Had your coffee?' - That's it!! This morning, as I asked my neighbour this question, I realised that I had finally become a true citizen of the Malnad region :)
In these parts, a smile and Coffee Aayita? or Aayita Coffee is equal to 'Hello'/ 'How are you?' elsewhere. Walk down the street - anytime and everybody you meet will ask you Coffee Aayita? ( except lunchtime.. then the question is OoTa aayita) :)
During my initial years here, I would wonder if this is what people here did through the day... and it seemed so! Most houses had a pot of coffee boiling at all times - on a stove fuelled by coal. Every other hour, family members would dip their tumblers into it and drink - like I would drink water!
Not that I mind coffee, but, I prefer tea. And, I'm no 'tea-guzzler' either - 1 BIG cup at around 9.30 a.m (when the house empties) and half a cup at about 4 p.m.- that's all. Whenever anyone asks me Coffee Aayita?, I return the smile and say Aayitu (yes, I have). Sometimes, I'm tempted to shock by saying ' No, I haven't had. Shall I come over?'...have not yet said that! :)
Actually, there has been this one occasion when I have drunk 3-4 cups of coffee within 2 hours, that too, after my regular cup of tea! Ah, that day! Even thinking about it makes me sick! But, I'll brave the feeling, and, share the experience :)
The government school here is more than 120 years old. A couple of years ago, the old students' association funded some renovations. But, before that, they wanted an approximate survey of the existing buildings on campus. One of the old boys, a retired military man, approached me (am a Civil Engineer), and, well, that survey was my contribution to the project (so what if I'm not an old student).
Thus it was that one fine morning, Military man, 2 boys (officially sent out of class to 'hold tape') and me were measuring & noting down ... a tough task when there are absolutely no plans/ records of the existing buildings :(
In addition to the various class rooms, there were about 3-4 offices on campus. Military man entered the first office, ordering (yeah!) me in with him. While the military man & the office man exchanged pleasantries, I simply sat and smiled. The two boys stood out, doing nothing! Much envied boys that day, I'm sure!! First, by their classmates, and, later on, by me!
Pleasantries over, MM said, 'If you are planning on giving us coffee - geefee, you can do so, now'. Ignoring my protests, 5 minutes later, 3 disposable glasses of coffee arrived from one of the nearby canteens....very fresh and aromatic, but, strong, sweet, coffee with very little milk. Post-gulping, we continued, until the next office,...
Very relieved after the survey ended, I came home, feeling quite queasy. And, thoughts of the tough job of straightening out what we had measured wasn't helping me feel better :(
Skipping lunch made me feel better. Still, I didn't venture out that day and THE question wasn't asked. Otherwise, I might have been tempted to answer 'Jeevamaanakke bekaadashtu' - 'Enough to last a life time' :)