Monday, November 07, 2005

Connoisseurs and lovers

and the day turns into a caravan of chai-breaks, inching forward along the beaten track of warm conversations.

Kashmiri chai - no, not kahwa - but the chai that Lucknow-wallas like to call kashmiri. The chai that the people of Kashmiri Mohalla reserve for very special occasions: Pink. Flavoured. All milk, no water. Loads of dry fruits, warm syrup. Children are allowed to drink this.

I detest it. I drink it.

A friend had once called me 'chai-premi'. Lover of tea.

My uncle tells me about 'his' tea. He says he's a connoisseur. "Use evaporated carton-milk. A little suffices, and it does not cool down the tea. And Lipton Yellow Label tea-bags. Only Lipton. Only tea-bags."

I smile a secret smile to myself... Connoisseurs are not lovers.

Tea is not about measures of xyz ingredients thrown together, on a flame.
It is about mornings, evenings, headaches, preferences, experimentation...

Hibuscus petals with honey. Ginger with Lemon. Ice with boiling water. Jaggery with cardamom.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.
Some days it works. Some days it doesn't.

Lovers don't dictate terms to the beloved. They are dictated to.

Chai will not always surrender to your whims. No matter how much you coax it, it will assert its independence. It will spoil itself, and thereby your mood.

There is no fixed 'time' for chai.
Or love.

There is no definite method to chai.
Or love.

There is no limit to the variation of form with chai.
Or love.

You don't always get what you want in a cup of chai.
Or love.

It is rarely excessive - as Kashmiri chai is - and when it is, you sometimes say 'no' to chai.
Or love.

You get burnt if you don't wait before you take the first sip of chai.
Or love.

And like I said, mamoo-jaan, connoisseurs are not lovers.


Sunny said...

There's no limit to the number of things one can compare with love.
Or chai!

Enjoy your cuppa!

Mridula said...

Chai, is such a magical thing.

Subramaniam Avinash said...

Schweet post. I love making Chai. :-p

Vinod Khare said...

Lovely post. I had never looked at chai in that way. That is perhpas because I don't drink it! But yes, this post made me realise the importance of this drink in social and personal life. So much can happen over a chai!

Anonymous said...

u can like more than one chai at the same time. money can buy chai. chai is cheap. chai does not make demands of "quality time" and "emotional support".

heretic said...

Zindagi ka zaika nahi, zindagi hi hai yeh. :-)

Been in love with your writing for a long while; first comment here though. Someday, all of these posts should grace a yellowing dog-eared book that one could carry around.

Swathi Sambhani aka Chimera said...

i love adrak ka chai (but with the right qty of milk)

Shilpa Bhatnagar said...

Nice post:)
Not a chai connoiseur or lover myself, it's just something that soothes a sore throat or warms up a chilly winter evening for me; yet I really liked the parallels - so true:)

Anonymous said...

ek pyala hame bhi milega?

david raphael israel said...

there's no fixed time for chai or love
there's bitter rhyme in chai or love
there's sweetness & fresh wakefulness
no wonder I'm in chai or love


Annie Zaidi said...

david: wah ji, wah! "bitter rhyme in chai or love"... kya kehne.
anonmous 1: chai is not always cheap. though, i believe you cannot buy the perfect cuppa - we buy the ingredients, not the experience.. just like love... and both are more valuable when given free.
anonymous 2: mahaz chai chahiye toh ek pyala mil jayega.
everybody else, thanks a lot :)

Chai said...

awww....the compliments and love. =)

david raphael israel said...

shukria Annie -- (though my online dictionary is useless for the kehne part; but...thanks, I'm sure.)
Incidentally, I've heavily footnoted the word "I'm" in the sher's final line.

david raphael israel said...

oops! let me try again (had it linked incorrectly); here's for the "I'm" footnote &c.

Anonymous said...

what are you on about? Kasmiri chai doesn't come from kashmiri mohalla, it comes from kashmir.

and it has Salt in it. its not sweet. its salty, cos you know, it has salt in it.

and its like not all those things you said. Its just an addiction. You need it, cos you're used to it. If you drink earl gray, its cos you're used to the taste. If you drink `red-tea' from assam, its cos you're used to the taste. You need it at work cos you think you can't go on without its. its all about addiction. Stay without it for sometime, and you wont need it.

like love.

Rajesh said...

You make prose read like verse :)

Try camomile iced tea...

Nikhil Pahwa said...

Made me reach for my cuppa. :)

But pink chai? I wouldn't mind trying.

No, wait. PINK?

wordmonkey said...

a delightful post, and you're so right - connoisseurs are not lovers

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