2012-02 Tea or Coffee?

This is something I wrote last week but havent had 5minutes to post!
It’s Delan’s penultimate day – I’m running around like Crazy trying to get my film done 2 more days shooting then editing and translating into Nepali – Mathali and English… crazy difficult!

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I’ve just been woken up by Kamnish with my morning cup of sweet coffee. After some truly horrific coffee experiences in India – I distinctly recall one cup of “Italian” coffee that I ordered in Jaisalmer which was a mixture of instant, masala spice and bits of what really can only be described as crushed wood – I swore never to drink coffee whilst here in Nepal. I even brought a cafeteria with me (a little two cup Bodium number) and two bags of Whittard’s breakfast blend gifted to me than my sister Natalia this Christmas. Despite this I’ve slipped into this morning order which occurs regularly between 730 and eight o’clock. The error on this delivery time makes planning to leave in the morning a little bit interesting but I don’t complain as it services are definitely more pleasant alarm clock down my iPhone whose repeat alarms I have over the years become quite immune to. The With so many iPhone users out there and sure in a few of you will have had such similar experiences. Overall I find that good coffee is really hard to come by on the subcontinent with the exception of places where Western influence is overpoweringly abound. Delhi – where there are boutique coffee shops like Starbucks and Kathmandu – or rather specifically Thamel (backpacker district) which is so westernised that good Coffey came as a natural sequitur to pursuing tourist dollar.
My efforts here in Janakpur been aimed at upgrading from office tea office coffee. During the working day at MIRA one is fortunate to have the attentive service of the lovely Bimla – all-round wonder woman who takes care of our every need. She and I have quite a rapport (or at least I think we do!) And really she deserves a separate blog post in her own right – suffice to say that office tea occurs between five and 10 times daily in small glass cups of sweet ginger tinted sugary water.

Tea - definitely the most popular drink in Nepal
Tea “Chia” (or Chai – if you’ve been to India) is the normally served very sweet and with plenty of milk – not much of a caffiene punch but the sugary drive perks up the spirits. Served hot – even in 55degree C heat!

I search of this goal I have deprived myself of my 2 cup coffee brewer in my hotel room and a translocated coffee grounds they bought in Thamel to the office in pursuit of this goal. Unfortunately the quality of his Coffee seems to be lacking both in strength and in substance. One problem is that the grain has been ground too fine and as such there is always a fine silt at the bottom of the coffee. Furthermore Bimla insists on brewing the coffee with sweet instant milk which sets the whole thing off with a slightly bizarre chemically orientated saccharine aftertaste. Not ideal but at least it does give a little bit of a kick while you’re working.

Overall Bimla enjoys producing this concoction and just as with the hotel I seem to have got used to it. I feel in many ways that my adaption to things here in Janakpur – the food, the smell, the general lifestyle and of course the curious coffee may leave me in an odd retreat when I get home. One thing’s for sure I will be sorry to have left off alcohol for this period. My previous assertions that this was a great place to get work done have indeed been satisfied and despite the extended conclusion of the study (I had really hoped that it would be completed within one week rather than two) I have been able to score a number of things of the list and have gotten studying done to boot.
Nevertheless, I have found myself reaching for another drink during the day as I feel my habitual coffee use over the last six years of medical school has left me with a physiological need to some extent for caffeine stimulation. The drink of course is Red Bull – but not the branded variety you getting United Kingdom with its carefully labelled caffeine content – the raw Thai export version complete with all sorts of added extras. I’m not sure if it does have any substantially different qualities and maybe it’s the relative lack of other sources of caffeine in my general situation during the day but I seem to find my senses greatly heightened when I drink one down. I tried a little experiment the other day, drinking can of the stuff before I went on a journey on the back of motorbike. I shut my eyes the entire 15 min journey and drank in the sounds and smells of the city as we flew along. Things were incredibly vivid and maybe trip my mind in another way about thinking what it would be like to live here as a sight or hearing impaired person (come to the conclusion that I think it would be incredibly difficult and you may very well risked death by just simply stepping out into the street). After open my eyes my eyes were set by such a blue clarity as I haven’t known for quite a while.

Working hard – My Thai Red Bull hiding in the background of my room service chicken dinner.

So I’m not exactly sure what goes into this substance but it seems to more than replace my need for coffee during the day. Indeed the office staff have adapted to my daily reconnaissance for Red Bull which I then consume at my leisure on the grass in front of the MIRA building along with a packet of biscuits – who would have ever known that there are so many different types of cashew nut biscuit? Many abhore the taste of the stuff – but I guess the nascent associations with the good kick I get out of it has adapted my palate somewhat to the acrid substance. So… after a temporary reprieve from coffee we will have to see whether or not I return to my old ways back in kathmandu and onward to London – although the thought of trying to do finals without coffee seems a bit ridiculous!

Summary: Coffee is a tricky business on the subcontinent – Nepal is no exception. Plan carefully if you’re a coffee fanatic – or try other “local” specialities – like Thai Red Bull?!

Best wishes,

Seb

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POST SCRIPT my poor old cafeitiere – brought all the way from London has turned up cracked- I will be starting my investigation forthwith – in the mean time coffeeless again!

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