Thursday, July 06, 2006

More than you'd believe

Chai is not just to kick you awake, not just to keep you rooted, not just to welcome you home, not just to assuage hunger when food isn't handy, not just an experimental gift, not just to bond over standing at the tapri with a smoking-new buddy.

Chai is an hour in which to be left untouched, getting colder by the minute, while you write, writewritewritewrite, with a speed that overwhelms your sworn temptation. To sip when your fingers pause for thought, and let it half-register in your mind - 'it is cold'. To put it on the stove again, return to the writing, get caught up with one particular sentence that seems to be breathing larger, longer, until it is a whole paragraph. To look up at the stove and realise that the tea is boiling over and away. To bring what's left to the desk, take a sip, turn to the computer screen... 'so, where were we?'

Chai is to be left untouched, getting colder by the minute, while you write, writewritewrite, and to sip and think - 'it is cold'. To dunk it into the microwave. To look up when the microwave timer goes off, say aloud that you're coming, just half a minute... But to let it get cold all over again. To feel a pang of real sorrow as you finally pour it down the drain.

To make a fresh cup of chai. To shut down the word document, open the music folder, put on Tu Bin Bataaye, lean out of the window, fresh air on your hands, hands wrapped round warm cup, and give that cup your full attention.

Chai is for reaching out for, in the heat of a July cheated of the Monsoon, yet another day, snapping - 'of course it is too hot for chai!' But chai must be had... Leave out the milk. The milk makes the chai hotter, denser, more unbearable. Like the humidity makes the summer unbearable.

Chai is to curse over. Chai is to lemon and ginger over. Chai is a moment in which you try to find a cooler place on a simmering pillow, the breeze in a muggy night.

Chai is more than you'd believe.

Chai 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

lovely. even though i've sworn allegiance to coffee.

Akash said...


Syed Asif said...

Keeps me awake all night. Refreshes me all day. It is more than you'd believe when my mom puts the filtered out chai-patti in the Rose plants.

Anonymous said...

Chai without milk is no longer chai, it becomes plain jane tea!

Vijayeta said...

You remember when we went to Jaisalmer for a holiday and had that honey, lemon, ginger tea at that rooftop restaurant? And how ALL we had back home on returning was that same tea...
It was such fun! I think i'll make me one cup of that NOW!

Janaki said...

You should read this!

shub said...

lovely. Thanks for the idea. I'll go have mine with lemon now :)

kuffir said...

chai fundamentalism..

Vidya said...

Chai is good for the soul. -_-

Unknown said...

Beautiful ode. I've been meaning to do a chai post myself. will do soon.

This was once a regular blog but, after six said...

It's funny how so many of the commenters used the word 'lovely' in reaction to this post. Funny because that was exactly my reaction to it as well: the first thought came to mind was lovely.

Vivek said...

An ode to chai! Magnificent effort! Dont reckon have seen a more expressive, yet more lucid piece on this topic ever. Loved it as much as I like my cuppa of Darjeeling!

Aparna said...

Great post...mind if I link you on my blog?

Annie Zaidi said...

shoefiend: a little disloyalty is good for the soul

jaygee: thanks for the link. loved the story, though i don't think it could happen in india. we're too earthy. besides, chai isn't a daily event, for us. it's a way of life.

akash, roshan, vivek, shub, girl from ipanema, safeaway: thanks

syed asif: i hope the tea leaves aren't boiled with sugar. there will be ants in the roses, otherwise.

anonymous: and what's wrong with plain janes?

vijayeta: hope it was as delicious as i remember

wittsend: what do they know of caffeine, who only starbucks know?

kuffir: there's an extremist nerve in all of us

aparna: sure.

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