During a rigorous semester (Spring 2002) that comprised over seventy two submissions over three and a half months strong black coffee seemed (and later proved )to be the only element that could rob me from my necessary pastime. I was in Hawaii. Hawaii is the home of KONA coffee. Since my earnings were limited, I had to learn to brew on a nine-dollar Procter Silex drip coffee maker. And because of the same reason I bought the economical brands: Yuban, MJB, Don Frisco and Hill Brothers. The day of paycheck receipt was different though. Specialty coffee from Peet’s, Starbucks, Seattle’s best all founds its way to the never say die shopping cart.
During those days, I was deeply moved by two basic forms of innovations in the disk drive industry. They are component-based innovations and architectural based innovations. The former was immensely experimented in terms of brewing coffee. Arabica VS Robusta, Indonesian VS South American, Dark Roasted VS Mild Roasted…there was no end to it. Buying an espresso maker or a Bodum French Press (for architectural innovations) was out of question for someone like me who was then living out of a twenty hour per week job as a library assistant.
I came back to Indian in March 2004. I wanted to bring some specialty coffee from Hawaii but my luggage was getting heavier so I had to return them to the stores. After coming back, I found brewing coffee was a real challenge. Ground coffee sold in Café Cofee Day (Dark Foret, Arabica) was grinded like talcum powder and the roast was not dark enough. The same held true for Barista. The shopping malls sold drip coffee maker but paper coffee filters were not available. The salesmen insisted on me using tissue papers but that imparts its smell on the coffee. After getting a decent job, I bought an Indian Coffee Press from Café Cofee Day and a French Press from Barista. While the small pores in the Indian Press was jamming the flow of the liquid, with French Press the sediments came straight to the cup. So I had to increase the size of the pores in one and use a second sieve in the other. So now when I need a clear cup of coffee I use the Indian Press (which takes longer) and when I need a very strong coffee I use the French Press.
Although the coffee never tasted like the ones I had in Hawaii, I started enjoying my efforts and moreover the company I had to coffee. The discussions ranging from Politics to game theory, from personal choices to diffusions of IT innovations and sometimes the sheer silence added flavor to the cups in Calcutta. Whether brewed by Barista, CCD or simply by me, coffee in Calcutta attained sweetness on its own.
My friends and acquaintances when travel keep sending me Startbucks on occasions and so I don’t miss the dark roasted full bodies coffee. Sadly, now my bags are getting packed and I will leave once again to pursue my ambition leaving my dreams and life back to the city of Joy. But one thing I know for sure I won’t quest for the sweetness of coffee in Calcutta. For I know, that will be a quest in vain. Posted by avimanyu at 10:40 PM 14 comments Wednesday, July 25, 2007 Glowworm, Innocence and PhD Last night right after switching off the lights, I saw a glowworm. In the generation where we feel mostly connected with things like i-pods, Tri-bands, IEEE 802.11(Wireless LAN or Wifi) a glowworm may not have much significance. After all a generation later these creatures could only be found in textbook chapters on extinct species.
There was however a time during the monsoon season the post shower evenings were filled with these fascinating creatures that did much more than lighting when the streetlights failed or in places where there were none. They acted as the key to our imagination unlocking a world of fantasy whose explanation may never befit the course description designed to make us work like robots wearing uniform, and where creativity is templatized.
After finishing my master’s degree in information systems, I returned to India from the US. At the time I had only one thing on my mind. Get into a decent PhD program and leave the country where the traffic movements in green lights were not significantly different from the ones in red. I started to apply for Doctoral programs. I started to get offers. Ironically, I kept rejecting them. Over a period, I started to grow used to the city, its people, and miraculously I started to take the pencil and began to sketch after many years. I started to get back my innocence. At the same time, the environment surrounding my job became politicized. Changing the jobs did not really help because all were almost equally bad. I knew that if I am to stay in this city and nourish the long lost sketch and me who can paint I have to not only survive the political environment in corporate life but also have to get proactively involved in the same. Thus, I became compelled to take the next PhD offer. I took the offer because of my passion to investigate the impact of KM systems on ambidexterity and my rage against corporate slavery.
And so I started the long ordeal of traveling millions of miles away from home. Home, the word has so many meanings. It’s a place where one returns form work to find shelter and warmth. I say it’s an abode that maximizes the psychological comfort zones even against the minimal physical luxuries. In fact it’s a place where glowworms come and say “ hello”.
While the glow worm sat in my room it constantly reminded me of the journey in the world of colors on canvas and papers from acrylic, oil and pastels. A journey propelled by engines fueled by innocence. And the suddenly the glowworm flew away. I tried to look outside the room but the streetlights were glowing and its innocent glow was eclipsed. Why did the glowworm come? To bid farewell to my dying innocence that has some breath left but will not survive the thoughtfully crafted thoughtless research that links KM systems and ambidexterity.
I am leaving all that’s close to me in pursuit of a dream. What kind of a dream is that?