He comes every morning as requested, usually a few minutes early, always neatly dressed in a beige lungi folded up, skirt-like that reveals legs like two bamboo poles. He taps quietly on the door, a tap so gentle that it’s barely audible. Silently he steps out of his chappals and stands at the entrance to my door, beside the table with my glass of coffee balanced expertly on a stainless steel saucer. He never spills a drop.
He moves with the grace and efficiency of a dancer as he places my large glass of milky coffee on the table and removes yesterday’s glass. Slowly he takes the two notes that are placed under the glass and folds them, delicately he places them in his shirt pocket.
I mumble thanks in English. I detect a low grunt of acknowledgement coming from deep inside his throat. His broad, innocent smile illuminates his face and reveals a yellowed mass of crooked, stained and rotting teeth.
He backs out my door, replaces his sandals and soundless disappears.
I look forward to his presence. He is so gentle and self-contained. He helps me start my day, not only with a much-needed dose of caffeine but by his example. I sit peacefully on my balcony sipping my coffee, listening to the sound of the birds chirping and the rustle of the palm fronds in the breeze. My day starts with a tranquillity that is my chai-wallah’s unknown gift to me.