Monday, May 19, 2008

The Coffee Machine

I seem to be obsessed with IPL so I need to get out of it. Besides there is this other thing that has been going through my mind for quite sometime so let me tell you about this.

Its this coffee vending machine placed in the pantry in my office lobby. Not something downright beautiful right ?

Anyways, there is this particularly ancient looking coffee vending machine. First impression it seems the machine was always there and has stood witness to many office gossip and a multitude of tea-time chit-chat. I have been in this office for the last two years and the coffee machine looks like its grown roots in its place and is immovable. Initially, I approached the machine with all the insensitivity I could have towards an inanimate object. No more than a occaisional thought about its pathetic state-of-affairs and the obvious criticism of being the most-replacable item in the office building.

Remember how people grow on you ? Strangely, the coffee machine has grew on me and I looked to it every morning and afternoon for support, succour and gentle mischief played out between friends. Now that suddenly things stand where they are, I not bemused but rather shocked and aggreived as if struck by the loss of one of my kin.

Let me start by describing my dear coffee vending machine. Big burly mass of steel, this gentleman must never have had a whiff of the word "elegance". Four nozzles entrusted with supplying hot milk, water and decoction for coffee this machine is the only option for the people who do not wish to settle for the ultimate torture of the insipid ready made tea. So workman-like and unsophisticated was my first impression of Mr. Coffee Machine.

As happens to most people in any office, I was entitled to my share of romantic attachments in office and in my case, I was lucky enough to find one in the wing right opposite mine. Hence, not only did we share the same lobby but we also shared the same pantry and guess what, the same coffee machine. As it so often happens, every love story has its share of villains, often so very powerful that the hero has to wait for divine intervention to make his presence felt in front of the girl.

One fine day, without any warning, she appeared, with this apparently close "guy" friend of hers, in the pantry, obviously looking for some refreshment. This guy was obviously the most important obstacle in my life for the moment and I was ( fruitlessly, I may add!!) plotting his downfall when the divine intervention happened. There came a spurt from the "Hot Milk" nozzle drenching him waist down in hot, steaming milk. I had to make a genuine effort not to laugh at the guy going "hot in his pants" in front of the girl, who was the bone of contention between us. He excused himself to the wash room and there was this golden chance. The dream girl all alone with me in the pantry. Something told me that this was time to go broke, before my tongue dried up as it had on a dozen previous occasions. Come on!!!

"Huh.. (clearing my throat!!!)Hmm.. Unfortunate that should happen to your friend", I started. Inside my heart, I was laughing at the guy's condition and hoped he was going to lose more than just his girl here. "Well, yeah!! Infact now I am afraid to use the machine",she said meekly. Thats my chance. Thank you, God. If this goes well I will start visiting the local Balaji temple every morning for the rest of my life. "Hey, that shouldn't be a problem, you just need to be careful with the nozzle. Be gentle while turning it and it'll behave fine." And I let out a big grin, all the while thinking if this was some devilish plot of destiny to make me look idiotic, with hot milk on my trousers and egg on my face after that sermon." Slowly, and the slowest slowly of my life, I turned the nozzle open and there it was, the smooth flowing hot, steaming milk that came out of the nozzle and filled the cup. God be praised. "You just want the milk or would like some coffee to go with it ?", I enquired. "Well... I dont know. Generally I stay away from coffee." was her reply. "Well, then you should get closer to it, believe me, its a good thing. Here let me make one for you", I was a gambler on the gambling highway placing bets at breakneck speed. She shrugged and agreed. Fortunately, making coffee four times a day helped me in this situation and I managed to dish out a decent cup of coffee. "Well... its nice and maybe you are right, I should start drinking coffee more often, now on", she said and smiled as she left the pantry.

If I was dumb enough to miss the point in her statement, her smile left me beyond no doubt that if I did not goof this up extraordinarily then this was going some where. Puffed with happiness, I grabbed my own cup of coffee and was preparing to leave the pantry, when I stopped instinctively, turned to the vending machine and blurted out a "Thanks" to my new found friend !!

Thereafter, the coffee machine became a constant companion in my early days of courtship, as it was the starting point of many a meetings and dates. My girl never understood why I got grumpy when someone complained about the coffee machine but then brushed it off as one of my idiosyncrasies related to coffee. Our coffee never took less than half an hour to make and surprisingly, her "friend" always had to bear some misfortune with the coffee machine. One particular instance was when he literally challenged her that he can make better coffee than me ( you know how we guys are rite!!!!) and magically from the milk vent, instead came out hot water ,thus, completing ruining my rival's challenge. I later saw him arguing with the housekeeping staff and threatening him with escalation, all the while glancing at me and the menacing coffee machine, as if looking at some rampant elephant being harnessed back into control by his mahout, while I made a fresh cup of coffee.

It all must seem extremely coincidental to you. It should. And yet, surprisingly, to me it all seemed natural. Maybe the fact that the resultant circumstances were favorable to me caused it but then did I really care. My morning started in the pantry, with a gentle good morning tap to the machine, before Sanjana arrived expecting me to be there. If she thought that I was always there before her so that she wouldn't have to wait for me then she was mistaken. I didn't want my daily ritual to be seen by anyone and that was the actual reason. That she thought otherwise didn't hurt matters.

Apart from my blossoming romance, the machine was also witness to my first tiff with the boss, and also the second one on the same day, my first effort at two-timing, which the machined ended effortlessly, my first appraisal rating and its consequent discussion. It approved of my decision to quit the company and my decision to propose to Sanjana.

This eternal bliss continued till I stayed in the company, and on the last day, with my very last cup of coffee, i paid silent homage to our friendship and may be a loud "Thank you!!!" actually escaped my lips. But as is the wont of Mankind, out of sight is out of mind and this applies to even inanimate friendships... so soon was forgotten Mr Coffee Machine and the interesting friendship i shared with it.
Then it was suddenly that one day Sanjana text messaged me... "Hey new vending machines in pantry, spunky and kewl. that old thing is gone. U wd hv loved the new ones."
Well would I hv loved any other "vending machine" I doubt and thus, I pay homage to "that old thing" and our unique relationship. Rest in Peace, Mr. Coffee Machine.

1 comment:

  1. Really good piece of writing. You have a long way to go.. Start writing a novel. I am sure u have it in you to remain outstanding :)