For an average working journalist, a cup of tea in hand while furiously typing away on the keyboard is the most usual sight. The cup of tea could be in the hand when meeting people, calling on friends who can share information and even over a quick five-minute chat by the roadside. 

Unfortunately, tea is something I have never been addicted to. It led to odd situations where my host would ask: “Tea?” It would set me thinking. “I prefer not to have any hot beverage,” I would say. 

“Ok, some soft drink?” would be the next question. I must say, any cold beverage does not work for me either. It has to ‘Coke, on the rocks’ for me or else I will prefer not to have it. Thums Up works, only if it is served ‘on the rocks.’ 

While running around town meeting people, sometimes with a video camera equipment and a cameraperson colleague, you cannot afford to be so choosy. So, I have often settled for just plain cold water. Or, occasionally, a glass of nimbu paani has been offered. 

There have been numerous occasions when, as a reporter, I have gone for a gathering in the evening where senior industry officials are present. Just as a matter of choice, my abstinence from all forms of liquor has not helped matters. ‘Coke, on the rocks’ has often come to my rescue in such situations. There has been the odd person who has insisted I try rum with Coke. After thanking him for his suggestion, I have added that I will do that for the next drink. What has followed, without an exception, is more ‘Coke, on the rocks.’ It works the other person is happy that his advice has been heeded to!

For a person whose life revolved around ‘Coke, on the rocks,’ there was almost nothing more that I looked for in a glass. For me, it meant contentment. 

It was while working for a business news television channel in Delhi that I got used to the idea of having a cup of hot coffee while at work. During the peak of Delhi winters, commuting to work would often be a challenge because of the dense fog. To keep warm, a colleague suggested, much to my amazement, that I should try a cup of coffee to perk me up in the morning. Reaching office at 6 am to be ready to go on air for a news bulletin at an hour later every day needed something warm. Since it was biting cold during that 2008 winter, she suggested that even two cups of coffee would not be a bad idea!! 

All news anchors have to sound bubbly and chirpy in the morning. But for someone who would never have a hot beverage that sounded sacrilegious. I must confess she was pushy and convinced me to try it out. I got myself a cup of coffee a little before the ‘The Breakfast Show.’ It helped that my throat felt good every time I sipped the beverage.

“Good morning! Hello and welcome to ‘The Breakfast Show.’ The Asian markets have been ……” That would often be the opening line for the show that I used to host. Seeing a coffee mug close to where I would sit in the studio became the norm.

There are some places in the newsroom where food or beverage is restricted or, sometimes, not permitted at all because expensive broadcast equipment can be spoilt if it is spilt on them. Nursing a bad throat, I managed to carry the coffee mug inside the restricted area of the studio. Those few days, perhaps, changed it for me. Soon, it became very normal for me to walk into the studio with my cup of coffee.

Nearly 10 years later, I must confess a few cups of coffee are integral to my work day. With the dispensing machine becoming a norm in several offices, the coffee in a number of variants is just a push button away.

My friends still ask me about ‘Coke, on the rocks.’ That has not changed. Perhaps, it never will. But I would not finish my work day without a few sips of coffee.