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Tea ... Any time! Happy New Year!

Deepthy Menon

Editor's Note:
Glad to present Deepthy's World, Deepthy currently lives in Great Britain pursuing journalism academically. An avid traveler and an active journalist she has her own blog called Word Sketches.

I now have a new 'brrr...' factor that helps me decide if the autumn nip is turning into winter chills....a month into my life here, I know why the Englishmen begin and end their conversations with weather...But the truth is the forecast is still like our daily horoscopes in our afternoon tabloids...too wide open to offend anyone, but with nuggets that might hit the bulls-eye with at least one of the thousand readers glancing through it religiously....

So that's about the brrrr...factor...Now with the brrrr...factor, comes the craving for chai..Now to be perfectly honest, I fancied myself as a coffee gourmet, till a time when my mother decided to end the nonsense of making a separate cup of coffee, every day before breakfast while the rest of the clan had tea - convincing me in her 'steel coated with silk' tone that tea was healthier and more economical - in time and effort- for a working mother..

So there I went from a staunch coffee drinker to an occasional tea dabbler to slowly, a confirmed chai guzzler...The state, I belong to in India, Kerala, is known for its plantations and Malayalis who down cups of the drink endlessly, perhaps even more than water...Politics is discussed in the local 'chai-kadas' or tea shops - leaders are made and slandered over cups of the drink.

I have never been fond of dip-tea( though my name has often been mangled and brutalized into that phonetic form) - I associate it with the evil brew that is spewed by the vending machines every media office invests in..preferring their exotic coffee concoctions over this vile abomination..So every morning, before leaving home, whether I have breakfast or no, one whole mug of the steaming drink, made really strong, with one whole teaspoon of those leaves, and a teaspoon of milk powder( another indoctrination by Amma) and just a dash of sugar( indoctrination by Health magazines) and I'm ready to conquer the world. Meanwhile, the green tea fad also had caught on sufficiently for me to try a couple of mugs conscientiously every day in the hope that soon, I would be one-jean-size smaller.

On 28th Sept 2009, when I set out from Mumbai to London, little did I realize that the hot cuppa chai that I made at my tiny Mumbai apartment would be the last bit of nectar I would consume for an eternity to come...I never realized that those red cartons of Red Label Tea that I used to automatically pick up, from among the plentiful lining the shelves in my local supermarket, would become a packet that I'd yearn to lay hands on, in chilly Brighton...Something hot to constantly warm the freezing innards is essential and the weak and insipid dips that I see people around me indulging in boils my very Indian blood..

So now, I drink the green version infused with jasmine and camomile and dream about the time when my life had endless cups of chai on demand...made at home the old fashioned way...or with ginger and masala at the local tapris or at homes of North Indian friends...

Then, I had complained hard about how milky some people make their chai, the milk nearly thick enough with cream to gag on and sugar to cloy my tongue for a good hour...Today, when I sit shivering in my layers of clothing sipping the fine 'tea drinking' experience of the Earl Grey or the Green 'Healthy' Tea, my soul cries....Ohhhh for that hot steaming cup of milky Chai....

Ok, before I go, one last question to ponder this and the other picture ( and don't be lured by the fancy trappings..which cup would you stretch your hand out for??

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