Hi chai. (That rhymed, I am such a poet!)
I just want to tell you that I really, really like you. I wish you were human.
This post isn’t about an important issue that is trending currently, it is not an opinion either. It is simply an acknowledgement. You can also call it a pointless confession, a confession I am making to chai, chai can’t hear me but the people who can sort of relate to what I will be saying, definitely can.
To the people who don’t like it, don’t read it, it’s a waste of your time. Some tea drinkers might also find this a waste of their time, but I am not forcing you to read, okay?
I am obsessed with tea. I love tea. I am dependent on tea. Hot, by the way, not iced, not the tea bag shit, not chai latte’s and definitely not the one without milk.
Indians love their ‘chai’. It is something over which a lot us have socialised. Yes, socialised. It has the ability to bring a bunch of people together. Simply because it has been a standard everyday beverage, since around 750 BC to be exact. It’s a routine, it’s a habit and it sure is comforting. Also, when it is made, you are bound by it. You HAVE to hang around until you have finished your share, and that is enough to induce conversation for some.
Add to it, the joy of dunking a parle-g biscuit and munching on a whole packet of those. How many times has your biscuit fallen in the cup though? That’s not a nice feeling, but we can get better with practice.
We’ve witnessed so many instances where in we go to meet our relatives and the awkward silence in the middle, when all the small talk is over, is broken by the hosts’ lovely sentence, ‘chai peete hain.’ The adults in the room actually want to raise their hands to tell the tea maker that they want to be a part of this communal session of drinking the sweet milky beverage. (Yes, that’s how exciting it is). I have seen my parents starting their day with the beverage, and sometimes ending it with tea too. Why, I wondered, until I tasted it myself when I was a kid. And since then I have been loyal to it. Well, there was a time when I had a thing going on with bournvita, but that phase ended.
There have been so many instances when I visited someone’s house and they automatically assumed that I wouldn’t want to drink tea since I am a kid. So I was always handed over boring glasses of mango or orange juice or the monster of all beverages in my world, pineapple juice. I had to drink it up, crying from the inside and craving for the beloved.
Like food, everyone has a distinct way of preparing it. Believe me, even if you’re putting the exact same amount of ingredients as person B, there certainly will be a difference in the taste, maybe miniscule.
The way I make tea is influenced by the way by mother has been making it. Milky, but not TOO milky, sweet but not THAT sweet. It’s hard to get it right, but whenever I do, I am on cloud 502 pataka chai. That’s a funny, bizarre yet catchy name for a tea brand. And if you drink that brand, I am not judging you, not at all, no way.
Attempting to pull all-nighters and waking up early has always been associated with it. It sort of motivated me to make the effort to get up, brush my teeth and put cold water on my face on a brutal winter morning. Then I would listen to a sound, the sound of my mom using a pestle and mortar to pound the ginger she would eventually put in the boiling water for my tea. (The ginger would be bashed up badly, it must have been cursing me, but whatever.)
That whole ceremony of my mom making chai for me and bringing it to my table would re-assure me that I woke up in the same place and not in a tea-less parallel universe. Phew.
Then I came to college, and then, I moved into a pg, the horror! If someone were to ask me the one thing I was disappointed with during 3 years of college, I’d tell them that I didn’t have a gas stove to make tea on my own, whenever I wanted. Yes, that’s my only complaint from the place I was staying at. So to substitute for the paucity, I drank up the tea served in the college canteen. (And sometimes instagram those cups too. I am the pseudo queen.)
Also, I despise, absolutely despise tea bags. They just don’t feel right. During those days when my desperation for my beloved couldn’t be controlled I would conveniently cheat and boil water in the kettle and hesitantly put the tea bag in it. You know what that tastes like? Sweet hot water. I regretted my decisions later of course.
So apart from the taste, the warmth and the conversations the drink can induce, it can also give you some really great ‘motivational’ instagram picture moments. So really, even if you hate it, drink it up!