things i write when i want chai

For all practical purposes,

never let your dad fool you into thinking

that you make good chai.

 

Because generations of women

have been pulled away from their desks

at the prime moment when inspiration has struck.

 

to make chai.

 

But don’t get up. don’t leave.

unless that cup is for you.

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The Parisian Cafe

Yesterday at PC, an English something woman came by to meet 2 other English something old women. Something about women my grandmother’s age speaking English makes me sit up in my seat and gawk at them. So I was gawking and soon I started barfing because one of them was groping dog to make him sit next to her. She pestered him to ‘sit’ and shake hands. Poor dog later toddled its way next to me and spent the rest of the evening under the table trying to escape evil groping grandma.

This place is what helps me put my sanity back after mad days at work.  I love these initial few days when the place is beginning to open up to me but the people in it aren’t familiar yet so they won’t smile. Not even the waiter who brings me my coffee smiles. I must learn how to fucking tip properly first. I have this crazy need to make friends with the waiter just so it all fits an image in my head, for writing’s sake at least. I wish we become best friends or he becomes somebody who will miss me if I don’t turn up someday.

I see lots of stories here. There’s an 11 year old little boy who sells tea to all the watchmen and the Istri walas and the Raddi walas. Sometimes, I forget my book and listen to him glide around the neighbourhood, selling tea, striking up easy conversations with everybody. He is really sweet to you if you don’t owe him money. He won’t give you any tea if you haven’t paid him for the last two teas. How do I know this? Evil bastard will shout out to the entire neighbourhood about who owes him money and who doesn’t. A trick he’s learnt to make sure he doesn’t get blackmailed by nicely talking watchmen who sometimes catch hold of him and eventually get that cup of tea.

Cops do their regular rounds now and then, picking up cars and bikes parked in no parking areas, looking absolutely alert and waving to somebody occasionally, nodding to most others, looking carefully for signs of drug abuse in youngsters standing near pc.

A bunch of working men come by around the time I go. They chat up on a range of interesting things. They talk about all the happening places in Bangalore, why Plan B is the best option for anybody with little money to spend on Booze, on Sonia Gandhi and why she doesn’t deserve to die, on dog and how friendly he is, and on girlfriends who were supposed to have come by now.

Much as I look forward to seeing all of this, I love those other really rare days when I am getting epiphany after epiphany, when I make great, life altering plans and decisions, when I discover the bestest short story ever written, when I hit upon something to write about, when I eavesdrop on a conversation that has left me with giggles which will come bursting out only after I make a quick exit.

Then there are days when I feel betrayed because nothing any of these other people do in their lives will arouse me so I sit there cursing everybody and their uninteresting lives and mine. I am not fond of those days. They make me question everything that has kept me happy for a long time.

What day will it be at PC today?

Tea

I was 14 when I took to drinking tea. Back then it was only ever made to accompany my special white maggi. My special white maggi was maggi noodles only partly cooked with no masala. Maybe because of this, I was the only person at home to ever eat it and enjoy it. I liked the wheaty uncooked maggi taste. I don’t think I can eat it anymore though. My pica disorder has found fulfillment in other tasty things like paint, slate chalk, mud, stones etc.

I have always loved tea though, even more than coffee or any other non alcoholic drink. On a bad day, drinking tea restores my faith in things getting even worse so I just shut up and drink it and let the bad things happen.

My experiments with making tea initially involved dumping 4 big spoons of tea powder into very little water with lots of sugar which made me walk around like a duck for the rest of the evening because of constipation. Over the years my tea making must have gotten considerably worse I am sure. I can’t actually say, thanks to the coming of the tea bags which made my life an absolute bliss. The tea bags were, I am convinced, discovered for me. I didn’t have to wrench my arms out in frustration anymore. No more dumping 4 spoons of tea. No more constipation.

The next big revelation was the kettle. I didn’t have to wait for the water to boil and pace restlessly and count the number of cracks on the walls of my kitchen anymore. Mug – sugar – tea bag – hot water. Done.

The next big big revelation was the automatic Kent hot water filter which has made me the lazy bum I am today.

I am not one of those “Need tea before starting day” people but I’m quiet addicted to the ginger tea at K’s and cannot go for over 2 days without having it. I have tried flavours ranging from the regular ginger-elaichi to orange-pomegranate. Now I stick with Elaichi like my life depends on it. I am comfortable with Elaichi-Ginger and have learnt not to be too hopeful in expecting similar comfort with pomegranate (I don’t know what I was thinking)

I am sometimes fond of the specialty Darjeeling – Assam Chai. All of these flavours I really enjoy only in black. The only milk tea I can digest is the one served at Ganesh right in front of my college. And some machine teas, like the ones they serve at K’s bakery.

I have no idea why I am writing about tea. It was a choice between tea and why I cry. So I had to pick tea. I came home a little exhausted and wanted to unwind before the week begins and everything but all I could find was some dabba slim tea and pomegranate tea and cinnamon and Aloe Vera. Who brings these flavours home? Need to find out.