What’s Coffee But A Dream?


Featured, Musings / Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

I fulfilled a lifelong dream this weekend.

I had a cup of steaming Nescafe coffee. As far as dreams go, that may seem ridiculous. But bear with me. There’s a story. A story of hiding our wishes behind the facades of life. A story of ignoring a little voice that tells you it’s ok.

What do Nescafe and dreams and all these thoughts have in common?

Growing up, we got a television pretty late. I remember most of my childhood spent at a neighbor’s house, eagerly watching Ramayan and Mahabharat soap operas, and the odd cricket match, and my favorite: the Sunday afternoon “regional language” movie.

I didn’t consider myself unlucky or lucky – it was just the way life was. You had to watch TV, you went next door. And then finally, my family bought a TV home. It was sometime in the early 90s by then. I stopped going over to the neighbor and plonked myself in front of this amazing contraption.

That’s when I first noticed the Nescafe Sunrise ad. I was fascinated by it. It had a catchy tune, and my favorite scene was where a woman steps out on the balcony with a mug of steaming coffee in her hand, looking out to the awakening world. It was aspirational, inspirational, and just plain out of reach for me.

I grew up in a typical middle-class Indian family. We covered our TV remotes with plastic, and nothing was thrown out in the belief that it “may be needed someday.” I didn’t know riches, and neither I didn’t know too much want either.

When I went to college, my sister forced my Dad to give me Rs 200 as pocket money. My Dad couldn’t understand why I needed all that money. That was enough for the monthly membership at a local library and a few chaat indulgences. That was the sum of my entertainment and indulgence. Pubs and fancy restaurants were not what I had even considered.

And then I began work. I started earning. I earned more in a few years than many people in India earn in a lifetime. But my family’s habits stayed with me. It was my Mom who most imbibed in me this feeling of holding tight to money. I assessed everything I spent on need, not want. It helped me save. It helped me kick off a corporate job with the luxury that I had at least 5 years of my salary in my savings. But holding on also stopped me from letting go now and then.

Being on a leash all the time can curb your heart from doing a little dance now and then.

And what my heart really wanted was to be that woman on the balcony with that cup of Nescafe. I ignored it because Nescafe seemed just too pricey. I could afford it, but I couldn’t bring myself to it. No, no, Nescafe, I told myself.

The years rolled away, chaotic, unbidden, and fibrous in my memories. I traveled to more than 40 countries, but I stayed in hostels and guesthouses. I thought it was extravagant when I once paid $40 for a hotel room in Cambodia.

So, no Nescafe. I forgot about it, this little coffee jar of old dreams, flung on some dusty mattress of time. Until this weekend. Browsing on Amazon, I suddenly saw Nescafe as a ‘Sponsored Ad.’ I don’t know what made me click that Buy button on Amazon.

Click. Buy. Delivered. And there it was – my first jar of Nescafe.

I didn’t have a balcony, but I had a window. And it’s here that I took a deep breath, and I thought how dreams need not be that big house or that sports car or that fancy designation.

Sometimes, a dream can just be a cup of coffee, filled with the years of our lives.

nescafe coffee

8 Replies to “What’s Coffee But A Dream?”

  1. I really love old advertisements. Though there were less shows but people in the 90s have their memories attached to the ads and shows. I envy that I am not born in the 90s. Loved this post so much.
    ‘Sometimes, a dream can just be a cup of coffee, filled with the years of our lives.’
    In love with the above line.

  2. While touring in the Yucatan, Mexico, Nescafe was proudly served at even the best restaurants. This in a region world famous for its rich and deeply satisfying coffee beans.

    1. Haha, Dave. You have the apt rejoinders, always. I think we should fix up that call soonish – I am better now, and I want to sit and laugh with you both again along with Swati.

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