The usual

The usual is a confused term that reeks of routine and quite possibly an air of mundane that comfort zone provides. The usual is both a trap and a challenge worth aspiring. 

It’s funny the way this year has played itself out so far. I went from a creature addicted to a routine to a wanderer without a pursuit in mind. Ah yes, we had barely covered two lines and I went off the rocker with philosophy. 

Back to the usual! It’s a word that signifies an identity. Back in Chennai, I would walk into the trusty coffee-day or the ever so popular starbucks and I knew instantly that I was in a place of comfort. A place that knew my name. It acknowledged me with a smile. The blokes were friends. Home has always been where the heart was and it felt like shops were following the same route.

I couldn’t explain it before. I thought things were that and never really tried to understand them better. I took the many folks’s kindness and smiles for granted and kept myself from questioning the whys around them. One simply does not go monkeying around things that are obviously working fine. 

With a kat out of the bag and monkeying hitting a grinding stand still, I was forced to understand the warm welcome of smiles that I had managed back home. Was it the place, was it the people, or was it something sinister at play? Yeah, nothing sinister about it, but admit it, the word felt cool when we read it !!!! 🙂

And so as I wondered over the matter, Yesterday I managed to open doors on a chilly windy morning and the answers were waiting to stare me down on my face.

Would that be the usual LUV“, her friendly voice announced. 

“Yes Ma’am”, I greeted back with a smile.

The usual, took me a week to find and finally it was there. 

There is this tiny coffee shop right next to my office. A shop which is neither branded nor the fan favourite of the office goers in this building. Since it was only coffee shop that I could find, I managed to step right in. After all, how bad could another soul make a coffee in comparison to the hell broth that i brew every morning!!!!!!!

The first cup from the Monday the previous week was epic. I managed to make in a strange request. I wanted a helping of chocolate powder before the shot of espresso was infused to make the cappuccino. The bloke smiled and his “yes, but of course” with a thumbs up was the first friendly gesture of that week. 

Two visits and a two days later, all I’d do is walk in at 9, he’d greet me with a smile and coffee was served. Exactly the way I had asked for it on day one. Small cappuccino, one spoon chocolate, one spoon sugar. 

Over the weekend, I had to hit work. The only coffee shop I knew , the board on it’s road had read Closed. Dejected and disappointed, I made it back to my desk without a cup. I returned an hour later, the sign still read Closed but the bloke was inside and he did look busy. Meekly, I walked in and asked if they were open for business. Happened that they were and they forgot to turn the board to Open.

I met his wide family that day. Adorable lil kid, his ever smiling ever so kind and friendly wife. There was mother there, but I didnt know it was her son or her daughter’s shop. I let that bit be. I thought it was a little too forward to intrude and ask. I wasn’t in Chennai anymore. Back in Chennai, I could have probably asked where their ancestors first learnt to make a coffee without worrying about offending anyone. As cultures change, the nature and meanings of questions also do change. 

Anywho, after that week, I’ve walked into that shop a lot of times and have turned their board to Open on a few occasions. “Bless you Luv“, the usual greeting would come. Or the “Thanks Mate” thumbs up would follow. It’s been two weeks here and this wanderer , who was not in pursuit of “The usual” managed to stumble upon it anyways.

The simpler explanation no longer eluded me. Wear a smile, spread a little sun shine, brave that courage to make conversations with strangers, treat people as people and not as machines which are designed to execute a designated task, I think no matter where in the world we manage to lose ourselves to, there will always be THE USUAL waiting for you.


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