Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chai as self

I've been told that those who do not love themselves will never be able truly love anyone else (although they often do/say things that wins them the love of others, which may then persuade them that they are lovable). Those who do not treat themselves with respect, will find it hard to truly respect anyone else. They will respect things, instead - the money one makes, the clout one has, the accent one speaks in, the contacts one boasts of... But take away all of this, and what do you have?
A person. Who deserves to be respected just for being that. A person.

And those who do not love chai do not know what it is to treat a brew with respect. With a genuine interest, curiosity, and no prejudices based on package, brand or price.

For, chai needs to be loved just for itself.
Not because it is fragrant, flavoured, exotic, from new trees or old.
Not because it can bring you relief, respite, anti-oxidants.
Not because it is strong, or mild, or just right, or vaccum-sealed.
Just because it is chai and chai is good (unless it has been treated badly).

A true chai-lover loves chai in all its colours and ethnicities, regardless of whether it can accomplish something for you or not. North-hill darjeelings or south-hill munnars; Chinese or Bangladeshi; Pakistani or Indian. In your heart, they all have a place.

For you must experiment. It is like discovering one's own moods. It is like discovering how deep your own capacity for tolerance, sweetness, change, patience is.

Chai reveals itself over time, over years. Like you don't really know what you enjoy doing, until you've done it, you never know what brew you'll take a fancy to. You might spend ten years sipping sticky-sweet tapri chai with enough milk in it to sate a new calf, but then you might go to a Chinese restaurant where they keep your (tea) cup full, and your heart might expand just a little bit with your stretching horizons.

Like you may spend ten years swearing by ginger, and eschewing elaichi, and adding only three tablespoons of tea to a large mug of chai, and that's that. But then, you might move into a new place and your flatmate might have bought a pack of chai masala and you might begin pinching a pinch, now and then, and as the spice floats up your nose, you will know that you've just been seduced by a stranger. Whom you're going to go on seeing, now and then, though you're still awfully committed to ginger.

Like you may dislike the tea-flavoured milk the villagers in Punjab serve you, but after the fifth, sixth, seventh, seventeenth cup, you will smile at the memory and wonder if you should attempt something similar at home. Because, things grow on you.

Like you never know where you'll end up, in chai or love. But if you're brave, you'll have something unique. Like my flatmate who, at university, used to start with an attempted chai, discover that it wasn't quite working, and end up using the chai in a pancake batter. Chai pancakes... ever thought of that?!

Perhaps, not everybody's cup of tea , but the thing with tea is, it doesn't need to be everybody's. It just needs to be yours.

Chai 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


Anonymous said...

Chai helps, surely....i have tried ginger and elaichi only..but chai is a must. Studies and chai...good combination !

The chai series 1 to 6.
Nice :) !!

gaddeswarup said...

You may beon to some thing. See:

Anonymous said...

lovely. I'm just going to make myself my morning cuppa. :)

Annie Zaidi said...

pushkar: studies and chai, idling and chai, day-dreaming and chai, conversation and chai... all good combinations. :)
gaddeswarup: yes, have seen that. but benefits aside.. would probably drink it even if it wasn't good for me.
wordmonkey: thanks
nikhil: do. do.

smriti said...

paagal :)

... remember dad's reaction to that one particular chai you made?

apparently, south indians are huge into coffee but Ravi is a convert now and makes excellent tea himself.

Well, he married a nepali...agar chai nahin piyega aur chai nahin banayega to ye shaadi kis buniyad pe khada rahega?

Annie Zaidi said...

smriti: yes, i remember. and he's not the only one. soni, our cook/domestic worker, accepted my offer of tea for exactly one day. ever since, she politely declines, saying 'I've already had my morning cup'. (psst- shaadi hoti hai, silly girl, hota nahin hai)

Tweets by @anniezaidi