I’m sitting in a Café Coffee Day outlet sipping Irish coffee and watching the ice cream melt on a piece of apple pie that I’d ordered in a moment of weakness. Much to my disappointment the Irish coffee does not contain real whiskey as I’d hoped for, only a non-alcoholic variety. Having had only filter coffee or the foul tasting stuff found in Nescafe outlets all my life I’d always been eager to see how coffee would taste with booze in it. It looks like I’m going to have to wait a little longer.
I’m sitting here for what writer’s call ‘inspiration’, the kind of inspiration that comes from a change in setting. At least that’s what Natalie Goldberg says in her book ‘Writing down the bones”, a book that promises to help ‘Free the writer within’. My cousin very kindly lent me the book after I’d shyly confessed that I hoped to write a book soon. She shares my dreams of being a writer too.
To complete the setting I also have with me ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, a writing pad and a pen. The setting is perfect to write. I should riding the waves of inspiration that shall crash against the shores my notepad and recede, leaving behind lines of exquisite literature. My sister’s friend Anu even promised to help me get in touch with a publisher she knew after she read my blog.
“They publish anything!” she said confidently. “Actually they print a lot of Hindutva literature. Would you be interested?”
I mumbled something like “Let me write the damn thing first” and then smiled self consciously. It’s embarrassing to admit in public that you want to write a book. I can’t get myself to face all the raised eyebrows.
But I can’t get myself to write. I’m surrounded by college kids wearing expensive casuals and cooing couples who are pretty well dressed themselves. For some reason I get the feeling we are all a little self conscious, that all of us are trying a little extra hard to show that we belong in expensive surroundings. The college kids are slouching a little exaggeratedly in the cushions and their voices are louder than normal. Even the cooing couples take a break from each other now and then and look around to assure themselves that they fit in, that it is perfectly normal to sip iced cappuccinos that cost a bomb and make small talk. I think it’s the same way members of Indian Rock or Heavy Metal bands feel about their long hair, pierced ears, goatees and Black T Shirts with gothic Mettalica logos. They seem to be able to pull it of effortlessly but somewhere inside a voice niggles “Do I look like I belong?”
Of course I’m probably wrong. Nobody feels that way and my mind likes to poke fun at other people.
I know why I can’t write now, I feel too elitist! The Paulo Coelho makes me look so wannabe. I know I shouldn’t have picked up a book that has had a ‘life-enhancing impact on millions of people’. It’s such yuppie book to read in public. Where’s my originality? Who do I think I am anyway? A fancy writer who goes to café’s for ‘inspiration’? Get real!
When I was about nineteen, a Coffee Day outlet opened close to my home. I was going to meet a few friends there and I told my dad I’d be back late.
“Where are you going?” he asked
“The Coffee Day outlet, you know…the one on the main road?”
“That’s the place where a cup of coffee is forty rupees right?”
“Uhm…that the one”
It didn’t matter that the ambiance was nice, that I could chat for as long as I wanted with my friends and that the waiters wouldn’t bother us needlessly. A cup of coffee was forty bucks…and that said it all-about the place and about the kind of crowd that hung out there. It was a totally unjustified view he had held and now I realize it’s genetic. I have it too. I can’t believe I’ve paid a total of a hundred and twenty bucks just for a change in surroundings.
I eat my ice cream with apple pie morosely and then gulp down the Irish coffee. The pie is not bad but the coffee is awful. I tip ten bucks and leave.
God! The excuses my mind comes up with not to write!