Look out Umrica, Susan Narjala has arrived! And one sure way to verify this: I know exactly how to order at Starbucks. It was only the other day that I heard myself say with quiet confidence, “A tall, non-fat double latte, please.” What had seemed to me undecipherable (is that a word?) caffeine-ese only a few months ago has now become my very own coffee lingo. I no longer feel squeamish at the thought of standing in line, staring at the menu hovering over the cool barista, while everyone in line knows how to rattle off coffee descriptions that span a minimum of five words. I no longer have to mumble, “Just a regular” and then stand at the condiment counter wondering how I’m going to add one of the five kinds of milk and a sachet of one of the six kinds of sugar to this cup that brimmeth over. When I finally create the concoction, I can’t believe I’ve paid $1.65 for this weak, watery excuse for coffee.
How I missed ordering a simple “kaapi” at Woodlands Drive-In in Madras. Oh, sorry, that was what my parents did. I’m not quite that dinosauresque. I did go to those hip coffee hang-outs in India, Barista and Coffee Day. But, when it came to choice, all one needed to pick was the size and then you were all set.
When I came to Umrica as a student, it didn’t quite help that I worked at Dunkin Donuts making coffee for rich kids shaking off a hangover (I had a morning shift some Saturdays). I still steered clear of Starbucks where people carried their Macs and hipness with ease.
It’s only after a year of caffeine-charged discussions with American women and listening intently to them as they placed their orders did my coffee credentials slowly kick in. Terms like soy, non-fat, extra shot, 2 %, venti and no whip finally came to light. Now it’s only a matter of accepting that I have to pay almost two bucks for something that can’t quite compare with Narasu’s Kaapi.