Grab a cuppa, tell a story or listen to one.

Everyone loves stories. Everyone has a story to tell.



Love Is Being Enveloped In a LARGE Family

Response to the writing prompt “Love is”, this post discusses love as it was when children grew up in large families and everyone lived together as one big family. Sonali Banerjee shares a facet of life that will probably be unknown to the current generation and the ones in the future. As always she keeps it real and very simple. 
One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life I think is to have a happy childhood —Agatha Christi.
In the era that I was growing up, they truly believed it takes a village to raise a family and there is a reason that this saying exists. Childhood has a different sense of happiness when you grow up around family and extended family, more so if everyone lived under the same roof in what was called in India as a Joint-Family. A concept tough to even imagine in today’s generation of nuclear families.
But talking about love, I always reminisce my childhood and all the love and affection I received from everyone in the family. I find myself enveloped in the memories of that love.
I was born in a large joint family with my three uncles and two aunts( father’s siblings) and my one and only grandmother whom I used to call Mummum,all living in the same house. Mummum always wore a smile on her face, had soft hands and white silk-like hair. I remember drawing with chalk on the veranda floors in the lazy afternoons. On those afternoons, I also used to lie next to her and listen to her stories non-stop. She used to be my partner in whatever I liked to do, sewing, playing with dolls or an imaginary pretend game. She always loved to cook my favorite dishes. Whenever I needed some extra money I always knew where to go.
The long corridors and their endless memories 
The terrace of the house had an elaborate dollhouse and my friends would gather to play with me there. The house was filled with warmth and there was room for everyone and everyone was welcome. My dolls were not any exception. 
As I was the first child in our family, I was a pampered child. Everyone took care that I was never upset. I remember vividly that if I ever cried for any reason everyone would run to ask my mother – “Boudi(sister in law) why she is crying?”
It always was a very comforting feeling to know so many people cared so much for me. For a child, this is the most important feeling – to be loved and cared for.  There was always someone there for me and it was not my parents all the time.
I loved everyone as much. I loved my uncle so much that every morning when I woke up I would run and plant a kiss on his cheek. When my uncle was transferred to another city, I still woke up in the morning and blew kisses in the air for my uncle…thinking that he will get them…
One day my mothers and aunts were planning to watch a movie without my knowledge. My cousin sister, who knew their plan, told me before leaving for school that if they go without you, just start crying. I don’t think I understood her instructions well. However according to the plan I started crying when my mom and aunts began to get ready. When they asked as to why I was crying, I told them it was because my sister had asked me too, obviously not understanding the outcome of my action. Such was the innocence. I remember everyone had a good laugh, but I do not remember if they took me to the movie or not.
Going out was one of my favorite things to do. We would take a rickshaw to a relative’s or a friend’s house. We did not have to plan ahead or call anyone. There were no telephones in most homes. You could plan impromptu visits.
There are many such fun stories. I could go on and on. My childhood was beautiful because of the people in it. In today’s times when the concept of a joint family is almost laughable, I wanted to mention this facet of love that will be unknown to this and future generations.  

Love For Nutella !

In response to out Writing Prompt#6, “Love Is….”. A young author writes “Love is ….The love for Nutella.” Read her narration, see the picture and drool, drool and drool! Or even better, grab a jar of Nutella!

Nutella covered strawberries, dusted with pink sugar. LOVE! 
Have you ever seen those chocolate commercials where someone bites into a piece of chocolate, and it’s all melted, soft and gooey with strings of chocolate dripping into their mouth; it makes you really want to eat that chocolate and enjoy it as much as the person acting and over exaggerating her or his love for it, how happy she or he becomes after one bite of chocolate? 
Now, rewind to the beginning of the advertisement and replace the chocolate with a jar of Nutella, and the actor faking her love for some normal old chocolate with yourself. Open the jar and stick your fingers in. Then slowly put it in your mouth, anticipating the wonderful taste of heaven and rainbows and unicorns. When you eat it, be careful not to bite your fingers off, the phalanges are known to be only as strong as carrots. 
Instead of that actor from the cheesy commercial, you won’t actually be feigning your passion for the wonderful delicacy before you. Your eyes will light up and shine like stars, you won’t be able to process anything that is happening around you, your brain will shut down and go on autopilot; NOTHING can stop you from finishing that jar of Nutella! And nothing will. Not when your idol is standing right there in front of you; it is, and I quote, “everyone’s greatest weakness”. The love for Nutella is so strong, and shared by millions around the world. I was a jar of Nutella for Halloween last year. 
Does that make it easier to understand the scale of love for Nutella? Join the revolution! Eat as much nutella as you can! Whether plain, on bread, cookies, biscottis, even goldfish(I had it once, it was amazing,especially if you like sweet and salty food!), it will always take you to magical, wondrous places you could not have normally reached here on Earth. 

Yesterday, February 5, was world Nutella Day, so spread the message. Stay calm and eat Nutella!

Written By : Srishti H, A Nutella Lover, And An Enthusiast young author. 
Picture By : Vipin Kalra 

Falling in love with life at mid-life

This is a response to the writing prompt – I knew it was different this time. I knew I was falling in love with … write about falling in love with things that you love to do, a place that you love to visit, a book/ movie or piece of music. You can write about falling in love with anything BUT NOT a person. 

Little things in life. Take the time to smell the roses ! 
Yes, I am in love! I am in love with life and its multicolored dimensions and with everything it has to offer which I never realized in my younger years!

May be I never had the opportunity and maturity to introspect into the details of the various aspects of life; life always came with an agenda and it’s associated challenges. There was always a plan of execution, an aspiration to succeed, ambition to exceed. And now, when I am finally exhausted of this rat race, I sit back and enjoy the simplest things in life which escaped my attention in the past.

Simplicity as it defines itself is the beauty of life. Waiting for the sun to rise and light up my day, to breathe in the fresh scent of the autumn flowers, to watch the sunset across the horizon and stare at the starry skies brings me the utmost joy and makes me realize how lucky I am to feel the kiss of the passing wind wrapping me tightly in its warm embrace and make me feel that I am alive!

And this time I know it’s different, and this time I am falling in love.

#celebrateloveeveryday #chatoveracuppa 

Written by : Jolly Datta. Jolly Datta, the newest writer on the block is an engineer by profession, a poetess and a die hard romantic at heart and a mother of two beautiful children. 

Picture by : Srishta Hazra. A fifth grader, Srishta loves to click pictures in his spare time that is when he is not at school or on the field playing a sport. He has an eye to appreciate and capture the little details in life. How often do we see someone so young stop to take a picture of a blooming rose ? 

Love in our everyday life

Love is innocent…
In the month long celebration of LOVE, this is a response to our prompt “Love is” by a 2 year old. The strokes, the colors, the scribbles are all unadulterated. It is drawn without any inhibitions. It tells us to take a moment and smell the roses, love every little detail of life. 

Love in the everyday walk of life. Love is …
  1. A perfectly steeped morning cuppa.(Darjeeling tea or a cup of good old back coffee) 
  2. The real tweets from outside the window in the quietness of the morning. 
  3. The warm pat of sunshine on the back. 
  4. A few smiles and hugs in the course of the day. 
  5. The times when someone asks about YOU before they do about your work.  
  6. The smell of fresh linen. The crispness of the fabric and the neatness of its folds.
  7. The sight of blooming flowers in the garden. 
  8. The aroma of a home cooked meal or favorite baked good in the oven. 
  9. A book that intrigues and transform into a world of solitude. 
  10. Music that makes you want to break into a little dance. 
  11. Love notes – in the lunch kit, on the desk, hidden inside the wallet. 
  12. A priceless artwork that is full of scribbles. 
  13. A text that says “When are you getting back home ?” 
  14. Knowing someone is always watching your back. Even when you thought you were alone. 
  15. A look across a crowded room and finding a familiar smile. 
  16. A sinful dessert at night(NY cheesecake, yum!) or a drink with your friend or someone special. 
  17. Meeting a friend over a cuppa. Add some sugar, a donut would be wonderful. 
  18. A little palm enclosed within your own.
  19. A little walk with the person who taught you how to walk. Reading a book to someone who once introduced the alphabets to you. 
  20. A skip in your step knowing you have been pampered. 

Love is a feeling, knowing all of this is a great blessing in life. Having all of it is not important. Even some of it is enough to be counted as a blessing. 

#celebrateloveeveryday #chatoveracuppa 

New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! Hope the first week of the New Year has been good and kind to all of you. We love the quietness in the first week of the year when everyone is just getting up from a slumber, things are slowly moving and happening but still not in the full rigor and the newness of the year is still very raw. The hangover of the year gone by is significantly there and it rightly should. For the year gone by has left us with many memories and it deserves some gratitude. The humps, the bumps, the rough spots, the happy places and the accomplishments, all of it were important. The New Year is only built on hopes and the wisdom granted by the year we bid adieu to. 
A big thing about the New Year’s has always been making New Year resolutions, most of which is usually broken within the year, sometimes even within the first month. Perhaps it is because we spend too much time analyzing what the resolution should be, will it work or will it not work, contemplating, calculating and thus putting ourselves to a task which cannot ever be easily accomplished. Well, that is what you call as the thinking of the adult mind. Kids, we found were much simpler. 
On the first day of the year, we asked a handful of kids around us, if they had any resolutions. Surprisingly, most of them did, regardless of what their comprehension of a resolution might be. They were all spontaneous and presented their very simple  and easy to follow resolutions. Ok, some may not be so easy to follow. Giving up Netflix time is not easy, we totally understand that! But most of the other resolutions are things kids already know and just want to ensure they keep doing it or do more of it in the New Year. Exactly the point!  Set yourself for something you think you can do or you really want to do. Figuring both of this should be fairly simple or so we think. 
Another person whose New Year resolutions is noteworthy is Mark Zuckerberg. It is an annual thing for him to ask for suggestions on his FB page from people about NEW and INTERESTING things to do for the New Year. Of the many suggestions, this year he picked the suggestion to read a book every two weeks. “A Year Of Books” is now a page where you can see what he reads, discuss the book and provide your suggestions for a new book. Why did we like it? Firstly, we are both book lovers and crazy readers. Soumi, when not found with her camera is found with a book. Secondly, this has actually inspired our in-house author, Piya, to read about one new culture every month of this year.  She is going to do so by reading stories and fictions based on that culture / country, something written by people of that land. We will share with you at least one post every month about that and we think it makes for an interesting discussion among our readers. This month it is the “Land of rising sun – Japan”. 
Another new thing we want to do this year is that we will do a long..ish story weekly / fortnightly, a story of words or pictures or both based on / inspired by real life incidents. We want to write and present this as a fiction or with the nuances of a fiction. There is the hidden writer’s instinct in many of us. Not all of us can possibly make it to the publisher, that does not mean we give up on writing. Does it? We will instead use this blog to publish the stories and reach out to as many as we can. Hopefully, this effort will help us reach out to several new writers too. 
We are taking in suggestions for both – different cultures that we can read about and discuss here on the blog.  Also, ideas, narratives or incidents in the form of a short story for our fortnightly publication. 
Are we setting ourselves for difficult resolutions ? Nah ! These are not resolutions. These are things we truly want to do this New Year. We took our inspiration from the kids! 

A Cuppa from the "City Of Joy" – Kolkata

A cuppa from Kolkata shared by our newest storyteller. This is Anindita Sengupta’s first time on our blog. She loves to write, is observant of little things in life and loves her cuppa. Today she shares with us her love for the cuppa and the connection between Kolkata and the cuppa. #chatoveracuppa

The best stories are those that tell the story of “you”. For the last couple of weeks, I have been closely following the reads of chatoveracuppa and can’t help but admire the experiences of life shared by many and the blissful connection they have with a cuppa! As rightly said, “a lot can happen over a cuppa”.
Tea and I go a long way back. Late night studies and steaming hot masala tea made especially by my mother for me; one sip and a pause and the tedious equations of organic chemistry and Newton’s laws of motion would make so much more sense, such were its effects. As I grew older, I started trying flavors of Makaibari and Assam tea, parallel to a few of those nameless, brand less (though not tasteless ) flavors, sold mostly at the road-side shacks. Talking of these tea stalls brings back memories of my college days where project proposals, a kulhad of garam chai and intermittent bantering were a must. My cuppa tea was always a witness to the good days and not so good ones. Even during my stay abroad, tea was always a pal, a tell-tale of my initial struggle to the time I knew I was home away from home.
In continuation to my retrospection, let me share a small romantic episode with of course “our” cuppa and “us”. If you have ever been to Kolkata, you would know that the city’s culture is intertwined with tea and coffee. You need tea for almost everything starting from being creative, to being productive at work, in leisure hours or as a stress reliever.

The city is sprawled with teahouses and cafes where crowds move in and out, a cuppa tea being their object of connection. It was one of those late winter evenings when my husband and I were on our way back home from work. The murky air hanging around, the stray dogs curling up in dust, gradually shutters of the roadside shops being drawn to a close; all we needed was a hot cup of tea. Home was far and our wait impatient, we decided to stop at one of the roadside tea stalls. A plate of spicy pakodas and a kulhad of steaming hot tea, the best we had ever had – just what we needed to unwind after a long crazy day!
Life, I feel is too short to procrastinate for tomorrow and too long to hold on to grudges. So let’s say goodbye to our regrets and cheers to the beautiful life with our cuppas.

Coffee Served Neat!

Move over Cappuccino, Frappuccino, Mochaccino et vous tous. It’s time for the real, unadulterated coffee, The Filter Coffee! Tada!!!

Photo credit: Ausmita Kaviraj
By the way, I have always wondered as to why Mochaccino is called Mochaccino anyways. Maybe because it’s a mock-up of a coffee. It sure has more chocolate than coffee in it! I have always suspected it to be a hot chocolate trying hard to pass off as a coffee. Nevertheless, moving on to the real coffee on hand. The Filter Coffee is a popular variant of coffee brewed and consumed primarily by the people in the southern part of India. As my friend from southern India inform me, to most of them, Filter Coffee is the third most important thing for sustenance after oxygen and curd rice. And sometimes even more important than curd-rice!

Conspicuous by its strong aroma, the Filter Coffee gets its name from the filter, the two piece metal vessel that it is brewed in. The top half is a cylindrical container with tiny holes at the bottom that act as the filter while the bottom half is a regular cylindrical container that catches the filtrate aka the coffee decoction. 
To prepare the coffee decoction, all you have to do is put some filter coffee powder, which is basically ground roasted beans, in the top container. Then pour some boiling water over it, press it down, close the lid and place it on top of the second container. Now patiently wait for the decoction to filter down to the bottom container. About fifteen to twenty minutes later you should have collected enough decoction in the bottom container to make your coffee. Filter coffee is traditionally served in small stainless steel glasses. Put some sugar in the glass, fill one-fourth or more of the glass with the decoction depending on how strong you like your coffee and finally pour hot milk into it. None of those flimsy plastic stirrer to dissolve the sugar; instead the glass is placed inside an empty bowl and served. Before you drink the steaming coffee, pour it to and from the glass and the bowl a few times. Viola! Your sugar dissolves and the coffee cools down enough to not scald your tongue as well. One sip from the glass and all your lethargy goes scampering away as this ain’t no fancy pansy “not-so-sure-if-I-am-coffee” coffee. It’s coffee served neat,and it gets to work from the word go. 

Sounds easy enough to prepare right? Wrong! Now I ain’t no Masterchef or anything that remotely resembles a chef but I did fancy making a cup of filter coffee all by myself. As fate would have it, after several botched up efforts, I gave up. I suspect it’s because I lack the secret ingredient to prepare good filter coffee: the genes of the people from southern India. They undoubtedly are the Masterchefs of their cuppas ! Fortunately for me, I live in Chennai, the mecca of filter coffee. So, as I walk to the nearest source of filter coffee, I silently pray to God to give me some of those desired genes in the next birth and I shall have my nirvana. Amen!

For The Love Of Cha

My ‘Cha’ or tea has come a long way with me. It has been my best buddy, sometimes warming my cold hands, sometimes my heart. It has been with me through my smiles and through my tears, through my low days and high, ever since I can remember, my days have always begun with my ‘cha’ and sometimes ended with it  too!

My ‘Cha’ memories go back to the “thermas-wala” chai served by Dad’s army regiment bhaiyas, as soon as we stepped out of the train, the journey began from there I guess!  From there to having the high-altitude ‘masala chai’ made by the sherpas after a tough trek through the blizzard at 17,000ft in the Himalayas, to Jadavpur University’s “lebu-cha” (lemon tea), the black tea served by the forest guards in the deepest jungles of Assam (because they don’t have regular milk supply there), to the Urban Tapri ka cutting “adraki chai” (ginger tea) in Mumbai.  

Chai has never failed to cheer me up, it has never let me down!! Many a conversation has begun over it, made many a friend over a cuppa of chai, have had so many debates while sharing “cha” from a ‘khodaiye’ / “kulhad” (an earthen cup) while in college. The most memorable chai, of course, was the steaming cup served by our very own Nepali bhaiya at the adventure camp, after we bobbed out from beneath the over-turned raft at Shivpuri , 6-sets of teeth clattering a concert – ”chai” was panacea that day!  

‘Cha’… is a new beginning,
 ‘Cha’… is sharing warmth,
‘Cha’… is being friends,
‘Cha’ …. is taking time off,
 ‘Cha’ … is trying to concentrate,
 ‘Cha’… is being romantic…
 ’Cha’ is having that cuppa with someone I Iove …
need I say more!!

Story and Picture Credit : Aporajita Jain 

Chai Connections

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  

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