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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

tough jobs and resilient women ... 'coffee addiction' !


Every morning, as I enter my Office building – there is a little challenge – that lure of Coffee Sastra ~ whether to sip coffee and go to Office or go to seat and order Coffee ?  ~  though there could be umpteen coffee shops, coffee hotels, and people delivering coffee in Office, to my surprise, I always find couple of delivery boys at least waiting to take delivery of coffee, ordered from elsewhere !  -  Life in Corporate World can change too suddenly – often there are people rising to higher echelons while many remain low … a ‘glass ceiling’ is a metaphor – of the unseen, yet unbreakable barrier that stops people from rising to upper rungs, despite possessing qualification and capability.

Madrasi !  ~ In South Indian culture, the visitor to a House is welcomed and offered a tumbler of coffee.  It is an energizer, many have the habit of taking a cup of coffee immediately after consuming their food, especially tiffin items.  It is common to see people walking to restaurants / hotels and order a cup of coffee.  For most Indians, especially South Indians, the day begins with a coffee in the morning and perhaps at least two more during the day.  At home,  it is not simply Coffee, but Filter coffee – made from decoction dripping down from  coffee powder made of  dark roasted coffee beans, chicory – the hot water percolates through the thick powder solely by gravity and not under pressure.  To this decoction, is added milk, enough not to change the colour and aura.  The fresh coffee beverage literally wakes you up and makes you open to the day’s realities.  It has a stimulating effect on people due to its caffeine content and is the most consumed beverages of the World.

Coffee berries, which contain the coffee seeds, are produced by several species of a small evergreen bush of the genus Coffea. The two most commonly grown are also the most highly regarded Coffea arabica, and the "robusta" form of the hardier Coffea canephora. One Coffee advertisement used to ask  – how much you know about the person whom you love most…..  In good olden days, whenever people used to travel they used to travel with coffee contained in ‘kooja’ [a special coffee pot] and then with flask-load(s) of coffee… be it a traveller, or somebody making it at home – concocting coffee without spilling … spillage and perhaps liability is altogether a different issue, interesting one at that.

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world, with two billion cups drunk worldwide every day. Brewers from every continent have developed a legion of different methods to make the perfect cup, but few have ever put the question to science.  In recent past, on every highway in Tamilnadu, shops calling themselves - original Kumbakonam filter coffee shops have mushroomed.

Coffee is not entirely desi or consumed only by Brahmins ! ~  miles away,  Switzerland has  announced plans to abolish the nation’s emergency stockpile of coffee, in place for decades, after declaring the beans not vital for human survival, though opposition to the proposal is brewing. Nestle, the maker of instant coffee Nescafe, and other importers, roasters and retailers are required by Swiss law to store bags of raw coffee. The country stockpiles other staples, too, such as sugar, rice, edible oils and animal feed.  This system of emergency reserves was established between World War I and World War II as Switzerland prepared for any potential shortages in case of war, natural disaster or epidemics.

According to the plan released for public comment, coffee stockpiling obligations would expire by the end of 2022, with companies free to draw down what they store in their warehouses. “The Federal Office for National Economic Supply has concluded coffee...is not essential for life,” the government said. “Coffee has almost no calories and subsequently does not contribute, from the physiological perspective, to safeguarding nutrition.” A final decision on scrapping coffee stockpiles is expected in November. Switzerland’s mandatory coffee reserves are now spread over 15 companies, including Nestle, and amount to about 15,300 tonnes, enough to cover three months of the Alpine state’s domestic coffee consumption. Switzerland’s 8.5 million residents consume around nine kg (20 lb) of coffee per person annually, eclipsing Britain’s 3.3 kg average and double the 4.5 kg consumed in the United States, according to International Coffee Organization figures. Not everyone wants to see the Swiss strategic coffee reserve disappear, however.

If you are wondering the relevance of the 1st para ~ this morning, as I passed by – saw this person waiting to take delivery at Coffee Shastras… .. curiosity got better of me – went to the shop, spoke to her, conveying my morning greetings, had a cup of coffee with her .. .. for she is something unusual – in the male dominated World, she is among the few women causing ripples. 

It certainly is not easy – still some frown – especially when a woman rides a two-wheeler and zips past fast .. .. few would chase, overtake feeling that it is machoism.  .. .. .. and driving two-wheeler across the city, delivering at remote corners, knowing lanes and by-lanes and yet making delivery happen in time, is indeed a tough job.  In a field where even man would sulk in the hot sweltering Sun of Chennai – this woman Sumathi, starts her day early, arriving from Kolathur, making deliveries across and returning home somewhat late in the evening.

Around one lakh food delivery personnel are engaged by Swiggy every day to deliver food across 45 Indian cities it operates in, states one statistics. Add Zomato, Uber eats, Food Panda, eateries having their own delivery system and more – still I have not seen many women (in fact Ms Sumathi was the first I saw !).  Hearty wishes to this woman, who said ‘life goes on well – and it is not all that difficult’ – travelling in hot Sun, searching for those who had booked food through Apps.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Apr 2019.

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