So what is it that one craves for first thing in the morning? Something one can’t start their day without. Everything somehow seems to happen in slow motion in its absence except the office mails flunking your Blackberry inbox. The auto moves at a dead pace. The traffic horns seem to perform tandav on your head. The oh-so-holy-cow crossing the road takes eons to reach to the other side. The signal takes forever to go from red to green. The mind interprets yes as no, no as yes. So basically everything, just about everything, happens the way it shouldn’t.
I reach office and my first halt is not my workstation. Not an obliged good morning at boss’s bay. Not the washroom (considering the long journey from my pad to the workplace). Not that cute guy’s desk. But, the pantry. I don’t know how true it is for most of you, but it’s more like my mind is in slumber till I get my first cup of that kadak chai. I just cannot do without my cup of tea.
Mom says, green tea is good for weight loss. My perpetually frazzled friend says chamomile tea reduces stress. My constipated cousin claims to have peppermint tea only because it has relaxation effects on gastrointestinal tissues. And the one that had me rolling on the floor with laughter was barley tea. Staring at her bespectacled face, I found my grand mom explaining to me, how to brew something as bizarre as barley tea. The only one thing I remember was that it helps reduce tooth decay owing to the extremely poor state of my teeth. And there was a clear example of ‘one remembers only what one chooses to remember’. Pu erh tea (a name I can’t even pronounce) is said to be good to overcome a terrible hangover, might be considered by me some day. But the name itself alienates me.
No matter what the entire world goes rattling about, but my loyalty lies with the absolutely strong-adrak-elaichi flavoured-roadside-unnamed dhaba chai served in the typical grooved glasses. Introducing tea to India is one of the few things I thank the British colonial policies for. Prior to independence, Brooke Bond carts would go around the old city of Delhi offering to make free tea for anyone who brought milk. They would then boil the whole thing on the cart. Since then, the tea tradition has come a long way to become what it really is. Today, not only does India produce the most tea in the world, it grows some of the very best.
A salute to all the obscure dhabas, tiny tea stalls and enterprising chaiwallahs sprawled all across the nation, fuelling the passions of many. Be it truck drivers who drive unimaginable distances, rickshaw pullers who have to survive through the day, newspaper boys who set out at 5am, students who pull all nighters, journalists fighting their way through the maddening crowds or copywriters like me tucked away in some corner of the office told to generate a horde of ideas and kilograms of copy. The soon to be national drink of India is truly runs through my veins.
So all’ya chai lovers out there, get all your spices together, create some great chai for yourself and brew your passion as I am off to get some for myself.