I went to Starbucks in Monday, hell bent on getting a Grande Pure Matcha Latte With Oat Milk And No Sugar.
Why? Because it had been one of those days. Oh, you meant why that drink? Because I had a medical scare last June and have gone cold turkey on coffee since then. I’d been choosing Matchas because they were supposed to be the wonder drink and since oat milk was available, why not? For some reason, almond milk is not offered (scratches head).
But this post is not about my green tea fixation. It’s about this:
When I took out my card to pay, the barista said the customer before me had paid for my drink, so I was to enjoy my beverage and to have a great day.”
Wow. I’d heard of people doing this and kudos to everyone who has. But I’ve never been a recipient and, sadly, it hit me that I’ve never done it for anyone before either.
So I went back to barista and told her I’d do the same for her next customer. Whoever you are, enjoy!
And whoever you are who paid for my drink, a huge thank you. I had a great drink, but your generosity reset the balance for the lousy day that drove me to Starbucks in the first place.
It made me realise that while I’ve taken photographs of historical buildings, quirky art, gorgeous gardens on my travels, I have pitifully few photos of my morning cup of coffee, my after-dinner coffee or even my hotel-room coffee.
Yet, these cups of comfort represent many special moments: the quiet contemplation on a balcony, the thrill of discovering a local coffee shop speciality, the restful recuperation on a photo stop after two hours on a coach, even a conversation starter on a long train journey. Indeed, each cup was often a cultural experience and history lesson in itself.
So here are some royalty-free stock photographs that come closest to what I’ve encountered. My thanks to the photographers for their generosity in sharing, and for capturing what I should have.
This reminded me of kopi tarik (co-pee tar-rake) or “pulled coffee” in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The stall owner would raise his metal pot way above his head, take perfect aim and pour coffee (or tea) into a mug. He would pour the liquid in the mug back into the pot the same way, and repeat the pot to mug transfer. The result was a frothy beverage with the temperature just right for sipping. The old-fashioned cappuccino, perhaps?
This is Vietnamese dripped-coffee. In the tin cup are coffee grounds with hot water poured to the brim and kept warm by the saucer on top. In the mug is sweetened condensed milk. When all the liquid had dripped into the mug, you stirred your drink with the metal spoon and ta-da! … coffee.
I must confess this was something I didn’t actually try, although my fellow travellers did. In Singapore, traditional coffee shops in the 1930-40s served coffee with condensed milk and a blob of butter; this was called kopi gu you (co-pee goo you, where gu=cow, you=fat, hence coffee butter). The butter was said to add flavour to the coffee, and to “smoothen” its taste. Today, this drink has made a comeback, and also flourishes in parts of the US as Bulletproof Coffee, blended with the butter, coconut oil and protein powder.
And these two cuties remind me of my too-short trip to Nagoya, Japan.
You see, I didn’t have to be at work and I discovered – with the hugest amount of glee – that the household chores had been either taken care of or could wait. Which meant I had pretty much the day clear to do as I pleased.
So I declared it Be Kind To Self Day. Or at least till it is time to prep for dinner.
First, I brewed a cup of coffee – not instant. And added milk and vanilla syrup, although why there’s even vanilla syrup in the house is a mystery since I never bought it. Whoever owns it will have to make do with a tablespoon less. Or two.
Then I logged on to Pinterest and viewed bullet journal spreads like there’ll be tomorrow. Tomorrow will come, I know, but I might not have this luxury of time and computer hogger-ship. And looking at beautiful images on a large screen beats the teeny phone one anyday.
Why bullet journals? Because starting such a journal is something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. I have a diary that keeps my appointments and to-dos in order but leaves little room for ideas, thoughts, reflections and random, hideous doodles. This week, I bought a Leuchtturm1917 and a bunch of fineliner pens and brush pens. Then found I had neither the guts nor ideas to start, despite having read blogs on bullet journaling.
Pinterest is an awesome place for ideas and links to other equally awesome websites. But I have to admit, it can be thoroughly demoralising to realise the chasm that separates all that awesomeness from the reality of starting out. Anyway, I have four pages mapped out so that is a great achievement for me, for now.
And while on Pinterest, I had Lang Lang’s performance of Beethoven’s ‘Emporer’ Concerto playing on YouTube. This was followed by David Garrett’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Converto in D, then Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. As I type this, the Piano Guys are doing their unique interpretations on everything from Christina Perri to One Direction to Mozart. Music bliss. Sensory bliss.
So now it is 4:30pm and time to let the real world back in. Folks will be coming home and dinner needs to be taken care of.
But it has been a therapeutic, soul-refreshing kind of day. I’m content.
It was barely 9:00 am and it was already one of those mornings. The printer had a mysterious paper jam that nobody could find, the photocopier had run out of toner but nobody knew where the spare was and if there was one, the discussions were frustratingly unproductive … you know, those mornings.
Then the message came for us to head to the break room. Our automatic response was: what else had gone wrong now?
Turned out: nothing.
One of our colleagues had brought trays of muffins in various flavours and wanted us all to partake before they all got cold. And he (yes, he) had also refreshed the coffee makers so the first cups were on the way. The man had woken up early to bake because he felt it was ‘the right day’.
He was a tad late for work but nobody minded, not even the boss. He had completely turned the day around with one giving, gracious gesture. Thank you.