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27 December 2009

Coffee with the Clocks

Thursday morning and I’m out in the city sitting at a “designer” coffee shop situated at the busiest metro rail station in New Delhi. I’ve decided to spend my weekly off with an old friend, and we’re headed to Chandni Chowk for an eating spree. Realizing that I’m unusually early for the appointment today, I end up caffienating on a couch by the cafĂ© window. I’m taken over by a malicious sense of satisfaction seeing so many people rush off to work as I snuggly sprawl back on the black leather sofa, perhaps an eternity of working weekends have caused a revival of my childlike vengeful nature.

While I lounge enjoying my steamy hot Americano, I notice an equally steaming billboard on the platform outside promoting ORAL pleasures of different sort (in coffee flavor of course). The ad shows an Indian couple on a bed, half draped in silken sheets affirming the company’s yet to be scientifically proven hypothesis that “coffee tastes better in bed”. Surprisingly the ad doesn’t seem to be producing any head turning effect; in fact people aren’t even giving it a glance. As the next metro empties at this busy junction, a swarm of office goers walk past the giant billboard completely overlooking it –almost as if to say “Thank you but we’re Indians. We don’t prefer condoms, and coffee?.. are you kidding!” Incidentally India is a country of 1.2 billion people, largely tea drinkers.

Bang opposite is another titillating billboard for a global inner wear brand, showing four grown up men, disrobed to nothing but a pair of boxers, sitting on a locker room bench, doing suggestive gesticulations with balls. Footballs of course. Obviously there is nothing serious about all this cos they’re “Just Jockeying”.

I start to think if we as Indians have become a lot more permissive to bold advertising. Back in the early days rubber marketers would sell the rubber by showing a picture of a couple holding hands on a beach against the backdrop of a setting sun, anything a bit more suggestive could easily have offended the Indian sensibilities. We’re in a different era now, and sex is no longer a taboo for us, be in on the silver screen or the ad world.

A glance back at my watch to reaffirms my notion of passed time. Time inevitably brings in changes to the ways of the society, and one can spend countless moments wondering how things will change in the future. My stimulated mind leaves me convinced that coffee tastes just as good anywhere. The friend arrives and we leave on a modernistic train to reach our destination – Chandni Chowk-the Old city.