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Measuring out life with coffee mugs

For over half a century, I lived a life where the early morning coffee played no part. On occasion I even snorted derisively at those who couldn’t open their eyes (or their mouths) in the morning without first sipping a cup of coffee. I made jokes about coffee-dependence, and when staying with friends shocked them by not having a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I was either sub-human or super-human, they concluded.

And then one morning it changed, and I have now become a spokesman for the morning coffee – hot, black and inviting. The Turkish proverb says coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love. Mine is strong as love, black as night. I don’t think the Turks will mind if I don’t have it sweet. With the passion of the newly converted, I am toying with the idea of writing a regular coffee blog, but will give the coffee time to settle first.

I have become a bore on the topic of the importance of morning coffee (nothing becomes important till we do it ourselves), and how it civilizes us. A coffee evangelist, if you will. T.S. Eliot might have measured out his life with coffee spoons, but the remainder of my life shall be measured out with coffee mugs. The morning coffee mugs, which, as every coffee lover knows, is different from those used the rest of the day.

There is, I am told, an anti-coffee movement too. I imagine people sitting around in an anti-coffee shop, sipping hot water and discussing anti-sport.

Should I kill myself, or get a cup of coffee, asked Albert Camus, famous for writing that there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. He offers an alternative himself. Coffee does that to you.

Someone once said that our culture runs on coffee and gasoline. Maybe he was right, even if in some places they taste the same. The mathematician Paul Erdos said that a mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.

By extension, a writer is a device for turning coffee into books, and a composer is a device for turning coffee into music. I speak here of Voltaire and Beethoven respectively, legendary coffee drinkers both (upwards of 50 cups daily).

This is a strange new world for me because I was a coffee-drinker for years, converting coffee (with milk and sugar) and cigarettes into newspaper columns. But no morning coffee. Till now.

There is something about the aroma of freshly ground coffee early in the morning that stands alone as an example of mankind’s refined sensibility. You know when you take it all in that god’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world.

You can have tea, of course, but it doesn’t quite cut it. Coffee has a spirituality that sets it apart; first thing in the morning it is a prayer, a thanksgiving, and an evaluation of the day to come, ahead of its unfolding.

(Suresh Menon is Contributing Editor, The Hindu).

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 11:55:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/measuring-out-life-with-coffee-mugs/article35383424.ece

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