Sunday, January 22, 2006


She is the only lifeline people have here. She keeps this place running. She has got everyone addicted and no matter whom you are, be it the big boss or a dailywage worker, you have to knock at her door every now and then.

My first day here at this place and Wasim took Manik and me around for orientation. According to the company policy you have to take a safety orientation of the place where you are supposed to work. Reason: If you get crushed/hammered/any other of million scary things that can happen around here, you can not tell that the devil never warned before hitting. Essentially it means know what the place is, what the work is, what the hazards are, who all are the people around, where you can get all the help you need and all that you actually need to know about the place. They also tell you that the beach is around the corner and also that on the next corner awaits Tsunami. Well, we can leave some corners unexplored.

“Now the most important part of the orientation” said Wasim after the round of the place. “This is our little canteen and she is Lakshmi”. Lakshmi lookes like any other girl I had seen in this part of the country. Short, slim, dark and a traditional outfit. “Lakshmi tea please”. I finished the cup of tea at my galloping pace and never even realized how important this small little ritual is going to be in the near future.

Lakshmi, tea, coffee, sugar, milk, no, yes, one, two, half makes up most of the conversation that involves Lakshmi. Yet she serves people from many nationalities and makes all the kinds of teas and coffees possible. Every one likes all her coffees/teas. And everyone understands that even though she only understands Telugu a polite thank you is always welcome and greeted with a smile.

It’s a small steel container which substitutes for a kitchen and an electric kettle is the all in one oven and teapot. She is the heartthrob of all around here. In absence or even in presence of any other girl (which by the way is very rare) it’s Lakshmi who takes all the flirting that happens around. Of course she doesn’t understand what the guys say but she knows that no one means any harm.

As the place runs seven days a week so does Lakshmi’s work. People never even notice if a big boss/an engineer/a specialist/any other person is gone for a month but everyone here is effected if Lakshmi is not around for one day. You can see many lifeless bodies moving around missing that much needed cup of tea. Even the tea that driver gets from some tea stall from the town won’t help. It’s the magic of Lakshmi’s hands that keeps running things around.

Last but not the least don’t forget to give her a tip once in a while. You will get to taste some of the best offerings from Lakshmi’s kitchen.

In search of energy sources down the earth all these souls almost run on the energy of Lakshmi drinks. Cheers to the taste that is not lost in translation.


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Sukhdev Singh is milking a buffalo when I call him. We are speaking after a long gap. His voice carries the same cheerful energy I remember....