Regular coffee in plain cup feels like ‘a time warp to the past’

 


Illustration: finklebottom

Yuppie journey to new coffee shop fraught with angst, intrigue

I’ve always loved travelling. I’ve been halfway around the world in search of myself and the meaning of human existence. But it was during a morning pee somewhere in the Konkan region of West India when I had a startling realization: I’d neglected to search my own country.

Perhaps I’m confusing things somewhat. Let me begin again.

I’ve taken many trips in my mind in search of our ultimate purpose on this planet, and many a time have I scanned the discount travel websites in search of an affordable sojourn to the unknown. But each time I was confronted with my own shortcomings: I hate to fly…and I’d much rather that interesting and significant cultures imported themselves here, preferably in a form that’s not too terribly foreign-feeling, but, you know, just different enough to feel exotic.

It was during an afternoon pee at an Indian restaurant somewhere downtown when I had that startling realization: I’d neglected to search my own country. And so I climbed into my MINI Cooper and set out on the open road to find myself… along with a small bottle of hand sanitizer, as I soon realized I’d left the washroom in haste.

I drove untold miles. Kilometres really, but “untold kilometres” doesn’t ring properly.

As darkness loomed, I reached the town of “Timmins, Ontario”. I searched the skyline for familiar landmarks and found none.

“But this is what you wanted,” I reminded myself.

I pulled my car over to the first building I came to and pushed open the door of what appeared to be a local eatery. It was strangely decorated. I could not help but notice the natives taking notice of me. I pretended not to notice.

“Venti Ristretto Bianco,” I said, in measured calmness.

“Hi,” a man said. “My name is Carl. Can I help you?”

“Venti Ristretto Bianco,” I repeated, but louder and slower.

“Hi, Mr. Bianco,” the man said. “My name is Carl. I speak English. Can you speak English?”

Clearly he didn’t understand Starbucksian. I switched to a different dialect of Coffeese.

“Fazenda Vista Alegre?” I queried.

“I’m sorry,” Carl said. “I don’t know what you want. Are you hungry?”

No Starbucksian. No Secondcupese. Desperate measures were called for.

“Double double?” I ventured, using the ancient tongue of my ancestors.

“Coffee!” Carl shouted. “I think he wants coffee! With extra cream and sugar!”

I nodded solemnly.

The man brought me a light brown-coloured beverage served in an open ceramic vessel. There was no protective sleeve but, instead, a strange ring on one side that seemed designed to accept my index finger. I lifted it and was delighted to see it fit my hand. I paid the man. It was remarkably inexpensive. I wondered at the abject poverty that must exist in this remote place to necessitate such minimalist commerce to sustain an economy.

The coffee was strong, even with the additives. The cup, plain white, was inscribed with none of the warning messages I was accustomed to seeing in civilization. I took small, guarded sips. It was intense. Not altogether unpleasant, but evocative of an era before my time. “I wonder if this is like what the early settlers might have drank,” I thought, as I continued to imbibe cautiously.

The natives continued to stare at me in silence. I wondered which of us was more unnerved by this meeting at cultural crossroads and, for the first time, I stared back. There was something familiar in their primitive gazes. I was ensnared by curiosity.

I think I will stay awhile and continue to test my mettle in this wilderness. There is potentially much to be gained in learning the ways here; perhaps I can teach them something of the ways of my people.

Sebastian Panache

Sebastian Panache

Editor-in-Chief. Follow him on Twitter @SebPanache. Or don’t. It’s okay, really.

Leave a Reply