It’s now evident that I have a soft spot for Chai. But to be very honest, I’ve never really known that. Until recently.
I’ve grown up sipping on all kinds of Chai that I’ve had access too. I even had a phase where I drank nothing but Earl Grey! There is also the question of where a place signified what kind of Chai I’d have that day. (Prithvi Cafe, Mumbai: Only a Cutting Chai or a Sulemani Chai)
And then, there have been days when a person would ask me if I was a Coffee or Tea person; or How I liked my Tea? And I’d shrug it off by stating “Depends on the mood”. And you would not believe me if I told you, that my own answer would sting me a bit on the inside.
Why don’t I have a strong personality choice? I’ve tried all the basics, I MUST have a preference, no? It’s not always good to be flexible about these things, is it? Why can’t I get a hold of myself and just pick one?!
The silver lining to this confusion cloud was that I’d enjoy a different cup of tea with almost every person I’ve known. Like a magical Chai bond. But the Chai bond that I had with myself, was a little weak (geddit?). Then, on one quiet afternoon, where naps were nowhere to be seen, I stumbled in my kitchen and found myself lovingly staring at a teabag instead of the jar of tea-leaves.
An epiphany happened. I realized that I absolutely adored…
HOTEL TEABAGS. Yes, normal tea-bags. No flavor. Just Tea. With two sugar cubes, along with a commercial sachet of Milk Powder. The electric Kettle was my go-to Chaiwala.
Yes, I see some of you throwing judgment so hard, that it might penetrate through my skull. And the rest are plainly confused and, as a fact, a little disappointed. (what the hell is this article about???)
I dug a little deeper within myself, questioned my thoughts, and finally got a grasp on the absurd concept my deductions were churning out.
It all makes sense. I associate the comfort and familiarity of a place, with Chai. And yet, each teabag, at each locale has its own personality. I like being on the move! Living on borders and timelines. Not existing solely at a place, but only momentarily. Awaiting yet another teabag, at another time, with all its flaws and weirdly grainy sugar. Just like sipping on a Paradox.
It’s traveling to a new place, but with my old self, trying to find a distinct taste and welcoming it. And no matter what, the essence of the teabag will never change. Ingrained, enhancing your persona in every sip.
Just like saying ‘Opposites attract’ , I fell in love with this minimalist/ ordinary thing while on the journey to find the maximal experiences that very new place has to offer. That Kettle bubbling water reminding me of butterflies in your tummy that you feel when you think of that one person. The way you immerse yourself, head over heels, all at once, like a teabag waiting for a leap of faith. Those sugar cubes you drop, like tiny love portions, just the right amount to your person’s liking. Milk for that warm, fuzzy feeling of familiarity and comfort that you find in them. The cup you hold on to for a couple of seconds before your first sip, feeling a sense of trust and security. And finally, watching steam rise and float away, making way for new memories – each day, every day.
Teabags for me are that one person I would want to hold on to on this unpredictable journey of my existence. It might change, in every country, city, time, place, situation, groups or even everyday. It might evolve. And so will I. But we would hold on to this piece of thread, this bond we share and call it our own, wherever we go.
Just like sipping on a Paradox.