Another brief tryst with the Garden City’s most wondrous weather had come to an end and with that, my three-week-long sabbatical from the World Wide Web. Gmail was to greet me back with a little under hundred unread e-mails, and perusing through them clearly wasn’t on my priority list as I hugged Big B, wishing him on his 23rd birthday. Ma had carefully chosen and helped decorate the cake- a delicious-looking chocolate delight- and a short visit with her to Big B’s treat at Cafe Coffee Day revealed there was one more cake waiting to be devoured, thanks to TV Didi and Rachel. And, like bad luck, good fortune tends to stream in continuously- it was another chocolate cake, with both being from two of the three best chocolate pastry-making bakeries in town! My teeth’s health and their monthly check-up by Big B could take a backseat- it’d been exactly a score days since I’d had good food, and I was not going to let up. A Chocó-latte, too, was gulped down greedily in the meantime. I’d ordered that for a reason...
After a squalidly dry first week, the in-plant training kicked in to work mode, with regular morning presentations and afternoons spent reading about or configuring devices. I was ordered to buy another phone by Ma and Pa, and I reluctantly bought a threadbare Nokia- the one with the Hindi SMSing and the flashlight. And Snake. I quickly rediscovered my touch and started racking up mammoth scores. That, and the free local and national SMSing kept me busy enough till dinner, a task I somehow got through every night at the paying guest accommodation where I’d put up. The mornings at the office were to get better, too. On our second day into the second week, a routine conversation with our on-site guide revealed the coffee machine was open to us as well. More significantly- for free. We strutted in awkwardly the first time, looking to see if other employees weren’t giving us curious glares- they didn’t seem like they’d be bothered unless we were big white ghouls with a sickle in one hand and a hook for another. The overwhelming aroma of coffee beans had me hooked in a trifle. The first button I pressed was espresso, to clear my perennial confusion over which of that and cappuccino was black coffee. After quickly throwing that cup of espresso- it being black coffee- I pressed the cappuccino button, and even though I messed up on the amount of sugar I needed, Cafe Coffee Day’s impeccable mix even through a programmed machine left me begging for more. From then on, we needn’t an excuse for heading off to the pantry room, where rested that amazing little contraption. Cappuccino, elaichi tea, ginger tea, masala tea and classic tea were all duly tried and tested. Although cappuccino won a few battles, the war was decisively taken by the latte- the delectable mixture of milk and chocolate, with the almost-ubiquitous tinge of coffee, all served neatly in a cup only a few inches high, with a carefully measured spoon of sugar- just perfect.
While the first weekend was positively squandered doing nothing, the next was spent with an old monk, Rapu, in Bengaluru’s most famous mall. Although the fairer gender left us squarely disappointed, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine didn’t, even when the entire movie was made to rest on his shoulders alone. Lunch at a beautifully designed North Indian restaurant, and (yet another) coffee at CCD, and I was off to the city’s outskirts again in those breezy air-conditioned buses that glide through the city roads. Although there was a television at the PG, it was shared and that meant I was only to hum random Kannada songs, when not chatting with the two interns from DCE who were also staying there.
Back home, the first thing that caught my eye on the TV’s programme list was the return of The Championships, and I found myself ooh-ing and aah-ing at the sight of the lush green tennis courts at SW19, London. The state-of-the-art retractable roof notwithstanding, the air of tradition wafted all the way through to my couch, as I gazed like an eight-year-old, in amazement. Alan Wilkins and Vijay Amritraj’s voices were a relief after the drab Rolland Garros coverage, but despite this beautiful sojourn through the various courts at Wimbledon, just one thing seemed missing- the one thing that those most wonderful articles in The Hindu had described assiduously. The next evening was to see that culminating at Centre Court- His Royal Highness Roger Federer, prancing like a freed gazelle. Now, some who may have watched tennis with me may think I’m not a Federer fan and am thus, now being a hypocrite. The only reason I supported Nadal through the Australian Open and other tournaments, is that I felt he was the one who could bring the latent best- yes, even more- from the champion, that He needed a thorn in the flesh to bloom further, a loss’ bitter pill to make that one elusive victory that much sweeter. The French Open triumph has brought back the FedEx, who almost effortlessly, almost carelessly brushed aside the competition to equal Bjorn Borg’s once-impossible record at the greatest stage of ‘em all. Watching Him thwack forehands wide, snuff those once-pristine backhands, and grimace in agony at those double-faults was painful, and to see Him recover from that, and come back to play the divine tennis that we worship Him for, is precisely what sport is all about.
I bow to The King.
P.S. - A little fiasco involving a long-overdue recommendation letter had me bunking office for two days. I got to complete my intern only because of Pa, Musit and Tiwari ji. A big thank-you to you all.
P.P.S. - By the bye, the prettiest lady I encountered during the entire duration turned out to be in the office all along. Although one of my comrades flirted openly with her, leaving us staring open-mouthed one time and throwing punches another, the idiots that we were, she was the only company employee whose card we didn’t take. Sigh.