It’s a fact that a middle-class TamBrahm householder’s day starts with a piping hot cup of strong filter Kaapi aka decoction coffee (coffee extract from a proportionate mix of ground coffee powder & chicory, mixed with boiled milk and sugar) and a mandatory reading of The Hindu (and / or DhinamaNi – தினமணி).
This remains true, even today – especially in smaller towns like Madurai, Trichy, etc, as life in the Metro, aka huge cosmopolitan cities with monstrosities called vertical residential communities (apartment towers), faraway workplaces needing hours long commute and always-in-a-tearing-hurry people have no resonance with the typically slow-paced, mild-mannered ways of the – mostly retired, now – middle-class TamBrahm elders.
The elder in this pic is Swamy Sr (Thiru M. Ramaswamy, retired CTO – Commercial Tax Officer – of the Tamilnadu government), who was active in government service then (circa 1997). Having completed his daily morning walk (a healthy trait he must’ve acquired from his father, i.e. Swamy’s grandfather, which he diligently adhered to, from time immemorial) and sipped the hot cuppa (there’s practically no limit to the number of cups, during the course of a day, any day) offered by daughter-in-law No.1 aka Mrs. Swamy, he’s on to the 3rd part of his daily morning routine – reading The Hindu and DhinamaNi (தினமணி). The Times of India hasn’t realised the market potential of news loving Tamilians then, so the only English newspapers were The Hindu & The Indian Express.
The totally zen baby, resting on his lap is Swamy Jr (Akash PC Iyer, who eventually became a professional Chess player of international repute), who apparently must’ve seen his father – Swamy himself, obviously – maintaining a respectful distance from his father (the Canon P&S digital camera had a 3x optical zoom!) and must’ve been pondering the question “Do you want the Paper or Me appA!”
Oh btw, Swamy Sr is more of a cool elder, not one of those stereotypes, featured in Tamil novels (oh, those were the good times when the abomination known as nedunthodar TV serials haven’t yet been created). The origin of the ethics & values of Life that Swamy‘s acquaintances may’ve observed in Swamy, is none other than Swamy Sr aka CTO Sir, a self-made man, and a wonderful human. No wonder Swamy Jr keenly looked forward to his morning rest time, in the lap of his gentle grampa, blissfully unaware of the big-bad world that he was born in, whose horrible happenings are featured in the pages of the newspaper that his ThAthA (grandfather) was reading!