The Merits Of Discomfort

It’s been little over 2 months since I came to Australia. Two months since I moved from another continent — with dreams in my toes and absolutely no understanding of the modern day coffee. You see, there’s so many ways to personalize it these days. Soy milk or coconut, raw sugar or none, cup or mug. I wasn’t sure I had so many preference for anything, let alone coffee.

Back home in India, I had chai. Tea leaves brewed in a liquid mix of equal parts milk and water, with grated ginger if you fancied it. You usually have this with someone you love conversing with or by yourself as you retreat into the tunnels of your mind.

Today, in addition to my personal tea time escapes, I have my coffee order down pat. A small flat white, soy milk, extra hot, one sugar. The first time I sheepishly asked for my coffee to be extra hot, my local friend looked incredulous. “The only person that likes their coffee extra hot is my 65 year old dad.” Really, I wondered? The first time I had a hot beverage in Australia, it was luke warm. Like a half-hearted pep-talk. And it was foreign.

So gradually, I personalised it. I made it more mine, more comfortable to me. Which is what most coffee fine-tuners do I suppose. We make our coffee more akin to us; find our reflection in the coffee we drink. In the friends we make. In the worlds we live in.

But what happens when you walk in a world that you do not belong to completely fearless? When you use discomfort to season your personality, to add feathers to your fascinator, to develop a side of you that’s layered, complex, flawed and vibrant. You embrace what you see around you, and slowly and to rhythm, you embrace yourself with a bigger fullness.

Your learn. You learn about Fennel. You learn to eat macadamias casually, like you did groundnuts. You learn what to take with you to friends’ barbeques, and you learn what BYO means. You sing at pubs and you learn to feel safe around strangers. You look for the expiry dates on the packets of reduced price ham. You learn to say “How you going?” to strangers, and you learn to hike cliffs in the rain.

You learn to be alone at parties; you learn how to introduce yourself to the guy in the coffee line who has a long beard combed down. You learn that what you say can make him laugh. You learn that sometimes you aren’t strange, and sometimes you are.

And you learn to be OK with that.