The gate communities may not be flourishing on the road by the coast and its illustrious parallel thoroughfare further inland but The Man from Madras Musings can tell you what appear to be flourishing – coffee shops. All along the two roads (Exasperatingly Congested and Only Motorcars Roads) several of these establishments have come up. And all of them promise a variety of coffee that claims to have a certification from a once-educational town down south, better known during British times for mendacity.

When MMM says several he is perhaps understating the numbers quite a bit. There is on an average one coffee shop for every car that drives down these highways. Everyone of these is advertised with the tumbler and its counterpart. But what MMM is not sure of is the quality of the coffee offered at many of these places. After all, what is a degree from a particular town for coffee? Does that town have any monopoly over mocha? Not so, MMM would imagine. And at least the coffee that he stopped to have at a couple of these outlets left him with a feeling that its quality can only be described as third degree. The milk was watery, the decoction weak and probably left in the rain. He reflected that the degree claimed was perhaps quite in keeping with that town’s reputation in the days of the Raj.

Not that old-timers from that temple town would agree. Their town was ill-used by the erstwhile masters, they allege, and assure us that they are made of the same degree of grey as people anywhere in the State. While tending to agree with them, MMM has to say that the degree coffee will perhaps only go to reinforce that old opinion. If MMM were from the town, he would have long ago issued a statement of denial and wrongful usage of name.

MMM, however, may be in a minority. All along his drive south he saw car after car drawing up at several of these outlets to part with cash for the weak brown liquid. And most appeared to go away satisfied. Perhaps the awareness of what makes good coffee is long gone. Coffee, as we knew it is dead, long live the Degree Coffee.