|My first cuppa before the rest of the house clicks into life.|
Enjoy the magic of Sukanya Bora’s writing and her chai connections. She needs no introduction. Get yourself a hot cuppa, curl up your feet on the couch and enjoy this nostalgic journey into the world of chai. You will find yourself in one of the many chai connections here.
Lately a lot has been said about chai and its merits. Thanks to the ladies over at Chatoveracuppa who launched a thread on FB asking their readers to post photos of their cuppas. What started off as a tiny spark has now developed into an exquisite tapestry of pictures from all over the world. Beautiful photos of cuppas accompanied with equally beautiful captions.
Every time I see a new photo. I get excited. Every time I read the supplementary caption, my mind takes off on a tangent. It departs on a journey of nostalgia, packed with memories that I still hold dear. Of countless cuppas and the stories around them. Endearing, priceless memories to say the least.
Like the time while on a hike in picture perfect Mukteshwar, I stop and sit down with a local to share his tea and beedi. This simple, elderly man squatting on the edge of the narrow, mountain path, sipping tea out of a kulhad resembled nothing short of utopia for this out-of-shape-desperately-needing-a-break-faux-hiker girl. He notices me eying his tea hungrily and from no where pulls out a small kettle, smoke blowing out of its snout and another fresh kulhad. Soon we are bantering, he in his Kumaoni accented Hindi and I, in my broken, utterly useless and incomprehensible variation of the same language while sipping our chai and sharing a smoke intermittently. The morning mist dissipates, thick fog gives way to clear skies. Just across the valley, the majestic Himalayas stand dauntingly tall with glistening snow peaks, signaling the beginning of a sun kissed day.
Or the sound of the chaiwala on countless train journeys. Chai garama garam chai, is the refrain we will hear out for. The ‘garam’ almost sounding like an engine revving into life. We will board hastily, settle into our seats or bunks but remain restless until we hear his loud, enticing sing sung voice. It doesn’t matter that it is perhaps the most unhygienic concoction of tea leaves and milk. It doesn’t matter that he is the most unkempt man with long tangled hair, stained clothes and dirt filled nails. The second the hot, sweet and milky liquid kisses our lips, we are filled with a sense of calm, the kind one needs to endure long, tiring journeys to far flung places.
Or the many lazy Sunday afternoons of long naps and listening to favorite radio shows, the help ordered to make a potful of aromatic Assam chai for my folks and everyone else who happens to be there at that fateful hour. The chai is accompanied by trays of sweets and biscuits, the latter, we happily dunk so they melt into our mouths. Conversations flow as cups after cups of tea get polished until someone sensible reminds us that we have other important things to take care of.
Or when with dear friends, each of us waits until someone offers to become the designated chai maker. While we engage in endless chatter on topics both silly and significant, tea mugs get filled continuously, samosa, bhujia and milkcakes are devoured and we lose ourselves in fits of laughter and mindless repartee.
Needless to say, there are numerous anecdotes to be shared. This is the beauty of chai and or coffee. They are bonding agents, ego inhibitors, good times catalysts that bridge people together. Nudge them to bond, share and create connections that are to last for a lifetime.
Story and Photo Credit : Sukanya Bora