Every day, The Man from Madras Musings sees fresh evidence to indicate that Chennai is truly an international city. We have already seen it become Chengapore (after all we too have signboards indicating that those who litter will be punished) and Chengai (there are always attempts at converting the sea face into commercial land). Now we become Chenncinatti or Checago, for the great American brand of coffee, which can roughly be translated into ‘stellar cash’, is here. Or is nearly here. Or is planning to be here.

MMM is aware that there is a certain variety of the local dweller who plans to welcome this arrival here. However, MMM is not going to be one of that ilk. Before you run away with the idea that MMM has something against stellar cash as a company, let him disabuse you of that notion. MMM, on the other hand, admires the company and the way its founder, after retiring, came back to turn the organisation around, rather in the manner of a local head honcho who, after declaring himself mentor or vision-holder or some such thing, came back, son in tow, to mentor and vision hold the company he founded as it was slipping into a morass. Now both Pop and Son have gone away once again, Pop to mentor and Son to a land across the seas. The stellar cash head in the manner of all American bosses, and unlike the local vision holder, wrote a rather good book on the process of turnaround and MMM read it with great interest as well.

But what MMM dislikes about stellar cash is its coffee – namely its multiple variants. To MMM and his kind, coffee is just decoction, milk and sugar and it was to have just this that he and his good lady charged into a stellar cash outlet several years ago on their maiden visit to the US of A. There they were subjected to such an interrogation regarding size of coffee, flavour, milk, sugar, syrup add-ons and, last but not least, “’ere or to take away” that thoroughly confused then. They nodded to everything and came away with two elephantine mugs of coffee. These, on being open­ed and sipped, tasted just like rat poison or so the good lady claimed, MMM having never tasted the rodent pesticide. Not that the good lady had, but she does have a sixth sense about these things. There was no option but to dump the liquids down the nearest drain and walk away, thinking wistfully about the coffee served at Hotel Six-faced-God Boudoir or the Adyar Abode of Bonhomie in this, our city.

Ever since then, MMM and good lady have harboured a deep distrust about the stellar cash product. They wish it well, but their custom is strongly plighted to other and more traditional outlets.