Monday, March 13, 2006

Chai.. Chai…Chai….

This post came into existence after a reasonable amount of inspiration that I gathered from my T-shirt quote which read “Chai.. India’s National Drink… Stronger than Vodka, Healthier than Rum, Cheaper than Scotch!”

Hmmm… Very Insightful… pondering on the same lines, relating the above quote to a few real life instances of mine, leads me to an affirmative conclusion on the simple and plain truth about the ever refreshing, revitalising and of course the most sought after hot-drink of the Rest-of-the-India (with the exception of south where in still our trade-mark “Filter Kaapi” continues to rule).

Living in the warm & vibrant western India, in the capital city of Maratha Empire, which is closely associated with the great warrior Shivaji, for an year and a half now (to be more specific) has made me learn and speak fully-qualified sentences in our good-old national language with which my basics were very wobbly & shaky as a result of my only Prarthmic level (meaning Primary education which included reading and writing of Hindi alphabets and numbers up to 100) prior knowledge of the language.

Unfortunate for me, could be because of being a stiff “Thamizhachhi” since the day I remember having gained the faculty of senses, my primary Hindi wasn’t of much help to manage with my day-day talks with the shop-keepers, vegetable vendors, laundry men, servant maid, auto-walas and all the other assorted people of our everyday life!

With lots of difficulty, erring every time with Genders/Tenses/Names of and about living or dead people and existing or evacuated things… Now after 16 months, At least I am sure I can comprehend the language very well to get its full implication, which was nothing more than a meaningless cluster of phonetics thrown at me randomly, before; when I had just stepped in to this all new West-India life in late 2005…

I remembered the day when I made fun of a new class mate of mine in my school who was from Kuwait and knew no more than “Yenku Taamil little little teriyum” – Read it phonetically the way it’s spelled to get the original sound effect of it!

Believe me I was made fun of, the same way I made fun of this guy at my school… when I said “mujhe hindi thoda thoda aati hai” – on hearing that there was an effect of a laughter bomb being blasted successfully and people plunged into the pool of laughter for the next how many ever minutes they can manage in the deafening Laughter-Mania.

(Adappavi makka… Yarukku theriyum thoda thoda atha hai or thodi thodi athi hai nu sollanumnu???) -

Come on dude… I was trying to get gender specific here… Atha – Male , and Athi – Female…. And I frankly didn’t know thoda(meaning little in English and Konjam in Tamil) also had a gender attached to it types…

(Adi-aathi yellam nasama pocchu… keli pecchukku aalayachu!)

Anyways, marching back to our actual topic of the day… Chai…

Apparently, I wasn’t impressed much with the taste of tea as long as I was a pure chennaiite, with no sniff of an outside state, caught in the air that my nose was inhaling ever since I was born.

My first experience with the typical Maharashtrian Chai happened to be in a renowned tea-stall that was the talk of the area in a place called Laxmi Road where all the youth went in for their colossal salwar/chudidhar shopping here in Pune.

It was a perfect blend of Adhrak(Inji), Elaichi(Yelakai) and an awesome flavor of tea-leaves which made the fresh brew taste heavenly – I was simply blown away!

With the taste of this masthi chai still lingering on my senses and taste organs, I got desperate when I looked at the board, having the name Chai marked Rs.4/- at my office canteen’s menu list on my first day of office at breakfast.

As swift as I could, I got the coupon and made sure to be the first in the long queue that was waiting there to pick up their breakfast plates and the tea with nothing more than a flat or grim expression on their faces which I couldn’t relate to before but am very clearly able to now!

“Hey Sal, maybe they traveled a lot before reaching in here, so they are tired or they must be sleepy, so never mind” – I tell myself that and find a comfortable seat with my tea cup with a lot of expectations and anxiousness to take in the wonderful combination of the early morning nature’s beauty and taste of the best brew of the most awaited chai – (after that first experience of mine).

Sitting there…. I took the first ever and most unforgettable ever sip of that most insipid tea by far, giving me a sense of shock and realization at the same time about the T.E.A that I had in that stall and the tea that I had in my canteen!

I gave up on the idea of tasting a good tea after that day until recently, driven forcibly by one of my colleagues to visit a Tupri (Nammuru Potti-Kadai) where the tea was popular in the 5kms radius of the IT Park of which my office was a part of.

I was hesitant and was almost expecting a similar experience that I had long ago on my day-one at canteen… But to my surprise, the first sip of the cutting (half-glass) chai gave me the old revere that I had for the tea I tasted in the Tea-Stall at Laxmi Road.

I was very happy and felt rejuvenated at my unexpected rendezvous with this miniature-heaven in the name of “Tupri” which still continues to feed me with exotic blend of tea that I always longed for!

Finally, Alice found her wonderland, where she would get her unlimited supply of the “National Drink” which costs Rs 2/- per cutting and Rs 3/- per full-glass.

Thanks to my dear colleague who’s onsite right now.

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