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Impressions by Bernd Eberhart
Escape from Delhi
They were so true, all the things I had heard about India before I left. What a country! Especially for a south German small-town boy like me: it is colourful and pulsating and tasty and fascinating and surprising and infinitely versatile. And it is loud and crowded and pushy and smelly and dirty and incredibly exhausting, at times. Especially in Delhi, where I stayed at the newsroom of The Wire for two months, probably one of India’s most promising websites for quality news and in-depth articles.
I had nice colleagues and good times there. And I had the occasional meltdown after yet another day full of unsuccessful attempts of contacting some researcher or expert on one of my topics, of writing hundreds of e-mails without getting any reply, of searching through chaotic university websites that look like they had got their last update in the time of modems and floppy disks, of clicking dead links and calling dead phones. On such days, the only thing that would help was a stroll to the small sweets shop down the road, where my friend Nishit and his father serve the best coffee in town and treat you with a tasty plate of chole bhatura.
At first, I was drawn into the shop by this really old-school espresso machine standing on the counter. It looks like straight out of some steampunky science fiction movie, and I guess it was built sometime in the 1960ies. But it brews delicious, fresh coffee, and for 40 Rupies you get a cup served with nice hot milk froth. And the best thing: No matter how hectic and chaotic Delhi life was for me outside the sweet shop, Nishit was standing calmly behind the counter, weighing and packing sweets, collecting money, making coffee, greeting customers and chatting with me.
Actually, Nishit wanted to become a jeweller – the silver rings on his fingers reveal this passion. But things did not work out quite that way, and soon he had to help his dad with the sweets shop. So now he sells coffee and sweets, saves some money – and one day, maybe, he might be able to fulfil his dream and open up his own jeweller’s shop. Until then, he is happy with what he does: keep calm and serve coffee. The best in town.