Buveurs and Baristas

Gopal's BlogThe Urban Dictionary defines “Programmer” as an organism capable of converting caffeine into code. It’s not that they’re dead wrong of course, just that this definition is too narrow to fit my head through – it squeezes my ears and makes me feel grumpy like an early morning coffee-starved coder in a too small balaclava. I’m a programmer – have been for a while – so trust me, I occasionally know what I’m talking about.

I practice my code sorcery (source codery?) at Digiterra, a company of truly awesome people, principles and practices, which keeps me energized, engaged and ecstatic by tolerating so much more than my aptitude for annoying alliteration. My appreciation for good coffee is legend, as is my humility. Hey, it’s my blog, and embellishment’s no felony in Cape Town.

Mocha Kenya – black, no sugar – is my regular poison, with intermittent adventures into the harder stuff: cappuccino, latte, flat-white, even a straight-up espresso – don’t judge me until you’ve been there, done that, and walked a mile in my macchiato-stained T-shirt. Yes, I know that’s a tautology, but only if you happen to find yourself in that lightly shaded part of the Venn diagram where the English speakers’ circle intersects with the Italian speakers’ circle. Unless you’re a highly trained Vesica Piscitarian, don’t try that at home.

My wife does not call herself a coder and would fix me with her patent-pending stainless steely gaze for suggesting such a thing. She is, however a published writer and editor of textbooks, so she turns French vanilla flavored ground and filtered 100% Arabica into code.

I also enjoy consuming and making stories, and occasionally pictures. Our two young sons relish computer games, movies, and a kind of modern dance on wheels they call skateboarding. Stories too are code – as are pictures, movies, games, dance, metaphors, remixes, embellishments, and a gazillion other symbolic outpourings of human creativity which execute in the blob-like ~86bn CPUs housed in craniums all over the planet – some of these right here in the privacy of my very own home. ~86bn? Approximately 86 billion neurons – the average number in a human brain.

This all goes to prove that my wife IS a coder of sorts.  Hopefully, she’ll never find out I said so, but witness protection aside, I think the Urban Dictionary definition could benefit from a slight tweak. I like: The species most noted for turning caffeine and other substances into code is Homo Sapiens.

This blog is my last-ditch attempt at becoming a coffee-drinking code-cutting story-writing picture-shaping Homo Sapiens when I grow up. By reading this you are supporting my caffeine habit. And since cultures are, after all, chunks of code – those diverse sets of dynamically morphing symbols we share with all those diverse sets of interesting Homo Sapiens – by embracing my code, you are intersecting with my Homo Sapienality. For that, I thank you from the depths of my ~86bn CPU.

So, whether Buveur or Barista,
may the Code be with you,
live long and Percolate,
and above all,
illegitimi non carborundum.

Gopal Ramasammy-Cook


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