Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Of scones and muffins and sandwiches and tea..


Here I am after my brief hiatus. Refreshed, rejuvenated and any other re's you can think of.
Ironically, the past month or two weren't really as draining as I thought they would be. Was rather nice to get back in that exam fervour, frantically making notes and staying up late nights. I hadn't realised how much I missed the academic scene. No matter, we do have the TOEFL (yes yes, I know, rather small fry but still) and then begins my gruelling application procedure. I really don't know how I'm going to pass this one year twiddling my thumbs. Oh yes, there's work of course *looks sheepish*

Still, it's nice that its all ended well with a good score and whatnot. That leaves me free to go see all those plays/foreign films I had missed. Books tho, I hadn't missed. I went thru Terry Pratchett faster than 'Ankh-Morpokh beer thru a dwarf' to plagiarise a bit from his books. But then I've always turned a voracious reader close to the exams. I think it's because while most people take their breaks from books to go watch the telly a bit or go outside or mess around with the folks, I used to keep a handy novel close by.

None of my regular fare mind, nothing that would need me to expend any more brain cells than necessary. I used to devour, practically inhale, 'The Complete Short Stories of Hercule Poirot' during my University exams. Now, I'm bent on reading the complete Discworld series. Fun, Frivolous and other Fr-words. Frothy? Well, I suppose so.. If one could ascribe any strictly-non-reading-type-adjectives to the Discworld series, it would be frothy: Like a large mug of overflowing cool beer on a dog's day. (I actually hate the stuff, tastes like sawdust. I shall replace with my own frothy milk/sugar/bits of strawberry-based concoction in my mind's eye)
Moving on, moving on.. Welcome to the once more dull and drab existence of moi. The highlight of my youth is my deciding to henceforth spend all Saturday mornings breakfasting at some outdoor cafe. I don't quite know of any such places here in Madras (and I did pick a marvelous time for it didn't I? 43'C last Saturday was it? Hmm..). Well, there is Amethyst and I'm not too sure about Anoki.

But forget breakfast. What I would really like tho is to find a nice, out of the way cafe, probably nestled amongst tall coniferous trees (I must insist! Coniferous they shall be!) and really quite sparse furniture laid out - None of those ridiculous neo-mod types, I cant abide sitting on something that looks and feels very much like a pokey piece of art and enough red pigment to blind Ferdinand the Bull - on the spacious clearing in the centre, the kitchen no doubt is not too far away, attached to a rather sedate looking patio randomly haphazarded with a few tables and chairs. Ah, the tables and chairs. Good solid designs, aesthetic but not ornate, a bit colonial, always comfortable and white linen (haven't decided between white linen and going bare tho). I must have white crockery! No patterns on the crocks, perhaps some delicate embossments but no patterns.. well, maybe if they're small blue and gold leaf-prints.. and silverware!

Well, so that's my cafe. But they don't serve breakfast and the lunch goes on for hours. Deathly slow service and everyone shuffles around and speaks in whispers and there are newspapers nearby (and books too, I insist on a small well-stocked cupboard of Forster and Elliot and perhaps a bit of Wordsworth) and armchairs on the patio if one is so inclined. What they do serve is English high tea. The authentic type, with little fluffy pastries stuffed with minced meat and thin triangular cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off precariously poised on the little silver pyramid of melt-in-your-mouths. Perhaps some smoked salmon or egg mayonnaise sandwiches too. And one musn't forget blueberry scones, those lingering memories of an Enid-Bylton inspired childhood (I did eventually find out what a scone was, and it was every bit as magnificant) with a generous dollop of strawberry jam on the side. These of course would be light enough to melt on a fairy's breath.

And muffins! Large, lumpy, bits of fruit poking out type muffins that leave powdery remains of flour and sugar on your fingertips. They must be lumpy mind, with uneven bits of sugar and butter concentrated in places, like drops of heaven esconed within the skin of a water bubble, ready to burst upon the tongue into a myriad of flavours at the most unexpected times.
And a small selection of light pastry tarts filled with fruits. And perhaps eclairs bursting with clotted cream and labouring under layers of thick, flowing chocolate. Slightly warm to the touch, it would have melted in the sun, see, and would be rebelliously dripping from all sides. And various small cakes and delicacies, and breads and cream puffs of course.

And then the tea. Served separately of course with sugar and cream and lemon and everything laid out so that one may make a religion of the thing, delicately pour it into a fine china cup and then slurp it oh so noisily while the lazy sun beats down unrelentlessly outside. (Aha! The coniferous trees shade me you see! I told you there was a reason.. Must be coniferous.)

THAT is my cafe. I am sure it exists somewhere in the realm of the unreal... Sigh, if only it existed in the here and now that is Madras.

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