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City Scapes

Sunday Morning


Baby John woke up as usual at 6 am. It was Sunday, and the day to go to Church. Baby took his shower and quickly gulped down his kattan kaapi, black coffee sweetened with jaggery, wore his trademark starched white bush shirt and his blinding white starched mundu, the white cotton wraparound and put on his Hawaii slippers. He tucked the black umbrella under his right armpit and walked towards the church, but stopped midway, as he usually did, at the chai peedee, the tea-stall by the side of the road. It was a just a few minutes after day-break, and there was no traffic on the road, but Abumon had already opened his tea-stall. This was a ritual that Baby never missed for the past 30 years that he lived there – he would stop at Abumon’s Madeena Hotel for his cup of tea and some biscuits or a plantain. There was Gangadharan’s Sneha Hotel next to it, which Baby frequented for occasional afternoon meals. No particular preference between the two, except that Abumon’s place came up before Gangadharan’s. Madeena was like any typical Keralite tea-stall, small, functional, with half a dozen tables and at least four chairs or two benches to go with each table. The kitchen was at the back end of the stall, behind the glass cupboard that had the morning’s snacks stacked up the shelves. It was very early for fresh food, but there were Masala Vadais from the previous night and a few naiyyappams (fried jaggery and rice balls). The entrance to the “hotel” was flanked by the so very common Plantain bunches hanging from nylon strings tied to the ceiling. Abumon was reading the previous day’s Matrubhoomi when Baby entered. They exchanged pleasantries, as Abumon shouted out to the waiter to get the tea. He need not have shouted, as the tea-boy was already scampering to the kitchen to pour out the tea from the aluminium kettle into the little glass tumbler. When the tea arrived, Baby asked his usual question in Malayalam, “what is for today’s breakfast?” Not that the menu was vast, but it at least paved way for a conversation on a hurried morning – and also something that Baby could look forward to on his way back from the church service. As Baby walked out of the tea-stall after slurping down his chaya (tea), he ran his finger across the bottles of soft drink that lined the window shelves of the tea-stall. Baby looked at Abumon and crinkled his nose – “these Plastic bottles don’t have the charm of the older glass bottles”. And Abumon looked at the coloured fizzy drinks and replied,”and I miss those glass marble capped soda water bottles. No fun in opening these bottle caps”. Baby picked up his umbrella and walked to the church at the end of the street. Baby always attended the 8 am church service as it was in English. The other services were in Hindi and Marathi, languages that he understood for colloquial purposes, but not very comfortable for long winded discourses, despite his 3 decade stay in Bombay/Mumbai.


About Narayan

Not a good stock market investor and you can perhaps read why - I find odd reasons for their movements!


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