Pleasure: Two stories

 Cup of Coffee on the Wall

From the Internet

I sat with my friend in a well-known coffee shop in a neighboring town of Venice, the city of lights and water. As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat on an empty table beside us. He called the waiter and placed his order saying, ‘Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall.’ We heard this order with rather interest and observed that he was served with one cup of coffee but he paid for two. As soon as he left, the waiter pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying ‘A Cup of Coffee’.

While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, two on the table and one on the wall. They had two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. This time also, the waiter did the same; he pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying, ‘A Cup of Coffee’.

It seemed that this gesture was a norm at this place. However, it was something unique and perplexing for us. Since we had nothing to do with the matter, we finished our coffee, paid the bill and left.

After a few days, we again had a chance to go to this coffee shop. While we were enjoying our coffee, a man entered. The way this man was dressed did not match the standard or the atmosphere of this coffee shop. Poverty was evident from the looks on his face. As he seated himself, he looked at the wall and said, one cup of coffee from the wall. The waiter served coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity.  The man had his coffee and left without paying. We were amazed to watch all this when the waiter took off a piece of paper from the wall and threw it in the dust bin. Now it was no surprise for us – the matter was very clear. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town welled up our eyes with tears.

Coffee is not a need of our society neither a necessity of life for us. The point to note is that when we take pleasure in any blessing, maybe we also need to think about those people who appreciate that specific blessing as much as we do but they cannot afford to have it.

Note the character of this waiter, who is playing a consistent and generous role to get the communication going between the affording and the needy with a smile on his face. He takes pleasure in serving the decrepit looking man as much as he did the paying, well-heeled customer.

Ponder upon this man in need….he enters the coffee shop without having to lower his self-esteem…he has no need to ask for a free cup of coffee…without asking or knowing about the one who is giving this cup of coffee to him…he only looked at the wall, placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left.

When we analyze this story, along with the other characters, we need to remember the role played by the wall that reflects the generosity and care of the dwellers of this town


Another interesting concept that is gaining ground is reading a book, putting your name on the flyleaf with date and place and then leaving it in a public place for anybody to pick up. This is sharing pleasures with somebody totally unknown!

The term is derived from, a free online book club which was founded to encourage the practice, aiming to “make the whole world a library.”

The ‘crossing’ or exchanging of books may be done in many ways. It can be wild-releasing books in public, direct swaps with other members of the websites, or “book rings” in which books travel in a set order to participants who want to read a certain book. The community aspect of has grown and expanded in ways that were not expected at the outset, in the form of blog or forum discussions, mailing lists and annual conventions throughout the world.

Ron Hornbaker conceived the idea of BookCrossing in March 2001. On April 17, he launched the website, which has expanded and grown throughout the world. By April 2003 the website had over 113,000 members, and in 2004 the Concise Oxford Dictionary included the word ‘bookcrossing’. In the same year, BookCrossing was featured as a part of a storyline in the Australian soap opera Neighbours and took off in Croatia, thanks to Velimir Schubert.

As of 23 July 2010, had over 871,000 members, with over 6,427,000 registered books. By March 2012, membership exceeded 1,000,000 and the registered book count exceeded 8,500,000.

In July 2007 Singapore became the first official BookCrossing country in the world. In an initiative launched together with the National Library of Singapore, 2,000 locations within the country were designated as ‘hotspots’, similar to Official BookCrossing Zones. In 2008, BookCrossing was introduced to Abu Dhabi as part of a joint venture with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. In 2010, BookCrossing Zones were introduced in Serbia.

The chain of readers expands and a book is enjoyed by many.  It saves the original buyer space to store it and yet spreads the pleasure of reading this book to many more people. The one objection could be that the author is deprived of royalty and the publisher revenue. But is this not a kind of open ended library?

Two different scenarios that talk about pleasure—sharing it and not hugging it close to yourself. That itself is a pleasure, isn’t

This is my delayed post to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, DeliriousGaelikaa,  GrannymarMagpie11Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, Shackman and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get  different flavours of the same topic.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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11 Responses to Pleasure: Two stories

  1. Dear Padnum

    I loved the coffee story and the Bookcrossing is an interesting idea if it keeps real books alive.

    I’m afraid though that I keep my 4000 book library very close to my chest! The ROOM where it is, overlooking a river wide & deep enough to accommodate ocean-going vessels, contains what I think of as the essence of my thought-life. My only sharing of it is in the series of books I’ve been writing since 2000 which consist of voyages round the shelves revisiting my favourite quotations and passages – those which have contributed for sixty years to the way I imagine I am! The rambles round the ROOM include autobiographical & philosophical reflections. Just my own way of book-crossing – I get to keep the books by creating more books!

    Seems a bit selfish really! But I’m not going to change in this respect now!



    • padmum says:

      I buy books! Every month I have a budget for it and I justify it to myself saying ‘Yes I earned that money from a particular assignment/article that I wrote. There are few books that I keep…I pass it on to others to enjoy. I have a carton of leather bound books–many of them classics that I am waiting to pass on to my granddaughters. I give away books to old age homes, children homes etc.

      My husband on the other hand HOARDS. He would not have looked at a book that he bought for years. But he keeps it in the cupboard.

      His books come in very handy for me. In September – October we celebrate a festival of Nine Nights of Dolls. We create steps and place images of various deities and invite women to come, sing, eat and be honoured. This is typically a religious/social festival centred on women. Many people make wooden,or metal dismantleable steps that convert into open shelves or are stored in attics for every year’s event. I have always built these steps with the metal trunks in which I store the dolls and planks of wood bolstered or supported by —yes books. So many of Raju’s fat books come in pretty handy and then I cover the steps with bed sheets or tablecloths..


      • How lovely!

        I do worry a little about what will happen to my library.

        Some of my grandchildren have expressed a desire to rummage and when I talked about it on Facebook several of my friends wanted to came and browse.

        I am like your husband then! But the pleasure of opening a book I haven’t read for years is immense. I sometimes do it just to experience the thrill. I’m still a very little boy really!



    • blackwatertown says:

      Wow – excellent – 4,000 books!
      I have recently sold loads and given away loads – but i still have many.
      I’m gearing up for a house move at the moment – so am having to box up the remainder. The Africa books are now in boxes in my brother’s garage. I’m on the lookout for boxes for all the rest.
      My favourite local pub does book crossing – there’s always a small store of adult and children’s books on a shelf in the main bar.
      And… having recently been to Venice – I love love love that story of the coffee on the wall. What an excellent understated dignified custom. (Also – for all its reputation as being cripplingly expensive destination, coffee in venice is good and cheap.)


  2. Grannymar says:

    I like the coffee for the wall idea, I wonder if a local coffee shop would be interested?


  3. Delirious says:

    I LOVED this post! What great stories! I love the idea of “paying it forward” in these ways. Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place if we thought of other ways to put this kind of kindness in to effect?


  4. Maxi says:

    This has been a most enjoyable visit, Padmini. “The coffee on the wall” is a heart-warming tale; and the comments are a story in themselves.
    Blessings ~ Maxi


  5. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Two cups of coffee sitting on the wall

  6. rummuser says:

    Can you imagine the coffee on the wall being practiced in India? The seedy looking bloke will not be allowed inside!

    I like the idea of book crossing and will start practicing it forthwith.


  7. Kumar says:

    What a surprise, I found a person like me. Do ponder about this anecdote.

    There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away.
    Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
    The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “May be,” replied the old man.
    The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg.
    The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.
    The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army.
    Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by.
    The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.


  8. Wow. The coffee tale is wonderful and the book crossing seems so logical on so many fronts.


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