The other day I was in a manic rush. Nothing new there for a millennial mom. Armed with an errand list longer than the Great Wall, I hurried out, only to realize that I had missed out on my mid afternoon caffeine fix. Now this is not just a good old cup of Doodh Cha, relished at leisure while casually glancing at the elegant professional shots of a friend's honeymoon at the Caribbeans on Instagram. Having survived a morning crammed with arguing with domestic help, negotiating with a teary toddler on the verge of a major meltdown every twenty minutes and meeting various work commitments, this is THE cup of coffee that threads the shreds of my sanity together. A strong cup of cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso, two sugars and no milk, thank you very much. To spare my tailor and sundry other poor fellows who'd face the wrath of my caffeine-deprived state I took a detour. There I was, standing inexplicably in a line at Gloria Jean's at five in the evening. It sure seemed like a busy time, I observed, and while pretending to look at my phone I started people watching. After a while it made me self-conscious of my well-worn distressed jeans, slightly stained old white blouse and well-worn slippers. In a second I had an epiphany. Having spent the last two years abroad, it had completely slipped off of my mind that here in Dhaka we roll in style. Even when we are out to get a cup of coffee!
With no time to saunter out for coffee runs with friends as I did in my pre-baby years, I clutched onto my cappuccino and the shreds of my self-worth and left the place in haste. Looking at my old Facebook pictures made me rather nostalgic, and my newly caffeine-addled brain reflected on the predicament. A previously savvy Dhakaiite has been transformed by the sheer practicality of life in a first world nation— so it seemed. Picking up coffee from a grubby little window in a drive-through in a rush does not hold the allure and excitement of putting on a bright lipstick and nice shoes to meet friends at a swanky coffee place with fabulous lighting. There is a certain amount of sophistication and preparation involved in this process in Dhaka that I sorely missed living abroad and the husband almost lost his mind over my constant bickering! It comes with its own set of perks no doubt, living abroad. But there lies a way of enjoying the simplest, smallest pleasures of life here at home that gets lost in the humdrum of work-life balance anywhere else. Coffee is a mere beverage that keeps people going everywhere else in the world, but here in Dhaka it is celebrated. Something we enjoy with friends and family along with desserts and munchies, going out for coffee is nothing short of an occasion here. Which is why it makes sense to dress up and get fancy for it and we Dhakaites sure know how to do it in style! Later that week when the gang wanted to meet up for coffee the pretty ruffled shirt and mauve lipstick I've been dying to wear finally saw the light of day; for two years of just “grabbing” coffee didn't just cut it anymore for this pure bred Dhakaiite!
Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed/Le Reve