Friday, April 15, 2005

Chai etc

Today, I'm going to be frivolous and (thus absolving myself of all charges of 'earnestness') talk about chai.

I have finally discovered why I didn't have any special feelings for chai, until recently: it was because I grew up in Rajasthan!

On my last trip to Madhya Pradesh (I was in one of the Rajsthan-bordering villages), as I settled down with a cup of hot tea, I almost threw up. And the memories came flooding back!
My childhood distaste for that sweet-salty brackish liquid that most grown-ups I knew drank in alarming quantities, and which, to my relief, I was not allowed to drink until I turned 18.

When I did turn 18, I never touched tea voluntarily. Brewed with tulsi and black pepper, the concoction was often forced down my throat when it (the throat) was sore. But how could anyone actually like that brackish, calcium-laden, salty brew? Or so I thought.

It was in Bombay that I discovered the joyous addiction called chai... Darjeelings, Nilgiris, Assamese brews, hibiscus, rose, mints, lemons, cinnamons, masala, gingery, milky, without...

And in Lucknow, I was introduced to the vast potential of this brew, the high talent associated with creating variations on the theme.... the angrezi chai, the desi chai, the soporific chai, the wake-me-up chai, the keep-me-up chai, the keep-hunger-at-bay chai, the let's-talk-at-leisure chai, the we've-got-guests-coming-over chai, the majlis' pink chai, the old-woman's chai, the baby-indulgence chai, the diabetic chai, the insomniac chai....

I love chai. But when in rural Rajasthan, or Madhya Pradesh, or any place where my soap refuses to turn foamy in the bath, I refuse to drink chai.

9 comments:

livinghigh said...

tip: grandmoms usualy make EXCELLENT chai. I have (or used to) the anglo variety - very brown, very strong, very sweet, very thick. ;-)

Vaibhav said...

Interesting!
I wish to stay at Lucknow for a while..Lets see!

annie said...

it's a family thing, though... not all families are as obsessed with chai as ours

Suhail said...

(hmmm...storm in a cup)
My grandpa in native is. He needs small doses of tea atleast ~15-20 times a day.

I miss the Irani chai and street-side Bhat's cutting frm Bbay. Nothing beats them. Try it sometime, the taste just lingers on. But here have to make do with american decaff in office - which I don't like. It's just a psychological thing. Anyone with ideas on how to make best out of this situation ?

And don't worry Annie. Some good folks in assam have researched a tea-pill It is supposed to be out in the retail-mkts sometime now :)

jaygee said...

Herez to all the moments spent at Tea Centre, Cha Bar and all other places that tea was had at! Including the amazing ginger tea that is ur stock in trade :)

shaun said...

I don't see what's so special about chai in Lucknow. But may be it's because, growing up in Lucknow, I never had tea, not just until I turned eighteen, but NEVER! I can't stand the taste of tea, though I love ice tea. What makes me go round about tea is the Indian obsession with it. My apathy towards tea and cricket make me feel less of an Indian.

Aman said...

Lil Sis!

You wrote on my Favourite Topic! Hot!

:-)

Anonymous said...

The malayalis serve chai in a large glass with lots of milk. Almost a meal!

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