by Mohi Gaur
For many of you, it might be a surprising coincidence to be coming across this title with a cup of tea in your hands. What better a vibe and mood, than to read about this much-loved beverage called chai (tea) while actually sipping it? Yes, this ‘chai pe charcha’ is about the hero itself, the beverage many call an emotion, an escape, and even a drug. The sweet aroma of simmering tea, envelopes almost all Indian households as the day begins. This random intermixture of spices is the loyal companion of many; sometimes as a tonic to keep up with long days, and sometimes as just an excuse, to meet a friend for a hearty chat or passionate political banter. There are high chances of finding cafes and restaurants vacant but hardly ever a ‘tapri’ (tea stall) without its regular customers. What is it though, about tea, that it is a tradition across cultures in its own right.? You too must have started digging into the reason for your ‘chai love’. If there isn’t one you can name off the bat, perhaps, you’ll find one by the end of this ‘charcha.’
While the forms and types of tea are myriad, the traditions connected to it, pretty much point to similar motives. The obvious reason behind such a similarity in motives is that humans anywhere in the world seek common things: companionship, peace, conversation, care, and time. In a dreary government office, that tiny-sized cup (a comical twin of tequila shots) that just has the capacity to carry a spoonful of tea is also drained bit by bit, over long discussions about the day’s work; boss issues; and weekend plans. It remains a mystery as to how that wee-sized cupful of tea can last for more than two minutes. But it does, and the reason may be the subconscious desire to make it last, to steal some more refreshing moments, some more minutes of ‘break time’, and in that, some more feelings of relief. During rainy days, nothing beats the combination of onion or potato fritters and a cup of hot tea. Likewise, reading a book while sipping tea is a much sought-after leisure time for many. Many cultures consider tea-making as a meditative and calming process. For example, ‘matcha’, a Japanese tea is made with meticulous technique. The aesthetics infused in the entire process aim at making the sight emotive and calming for the guests, or customers (in hotels). In all these instances, if one reads between the lines, it’s surreal to see the human desire to acquire a palpable feeling of ‘betterment’. Often, humans associate feelings of comfort, and contentment with material things, they tend to look for tangible forms to access the formless aspects of life. Tea too is one of those physical forms, through which people find their escape into the formless realm. Like a pat on the back, tea gives assurance; just like a dreamless nap, tea lends comfort; just like a walk in the park, tea gives freshness; and just like a friend on the other side of the table, tea gives company. More remarkable is the fact that, unlike religion, caste, gender, and language, tea as an identification mark of cultures has managed to unite the world instead of dividing it.
By now, you may have figured out your own reason to hold that cup of happiness so close to your heart, and if so, remember “where there is tea, there is hope”-Arthur Wing Pinero.
About the Author:
I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Jaipur, Rajasthan. My core educational background is in Humanities and political science. Debating, books, and coffee are my constants. Women’s issues are one of my key areas of interest, both in fiction and real life. As a freelance writer, I am constantly looking for opportunities where I can do purpose-driven writing.