Tea Please!

For a 1-night trip to a destination 4 hours away, there really was no need for me to act like the Sergeant Major in Akbar’s Army about to embark on the Battle of Panipat. I can imagine him inspecting the elephants, looking over the horses, asking the chief trainer why it is taking so long to domesticate rhinoceroses, talking to the kitchen manager to make sure enough supplies have been packed for the long march ahead etc.

My tasks as I went about the house gathering things were just as varied. Make arrangements to feed the fish, take care of the trees, pack the snow pants, gloves and caps, butler up and pack the food, take on spare shoes, DVD, audio books, physical books, kindles. By the end of all this impressive bustling, the car trunk looked reasonably well occupied. The children and their parents were all counted and loaded. We backed out of the garage when I yelped like a cat that caught a stray pellet from a naughty child.  It was as if a bolt went through me. “What?”,  WHAT?”, “Amma!” the voice modulation on each expression would have had Opera teachers proud. I murmured a sheepish ‘Sorry’ and scampered off to get a last minute something from the kitchen. I prudently hid it in the handbag.

“What did you miss?”

“Yes – Amma. The car is full of stuff!” said the daughter who had made the last seat into a sort of villa with curtains, pillows and a blanket. I doubt whether Emperor Akbar was as comfortable in his royal palanquin as she was.

“I’ll tell you later.” I said in a mysterious tone, donning a serious expression, for I was sure to be ticked off had they known what the commotion had been about.

I don’t know about you, but I find being perfectly dressed a chore. By perfectly dressed I mean for the weather. Take for instance, Tuesday. I checked the weather forecast, and it looked pretty much the same as Monday. On Monday, I felt like a shaved penguin in Patagonia, for it might have been bright, but it was tooth-chatteringly cold even indoors. My cotton slacks and sandals were struggling to keep bodily warmth and by the time I stumbled into the house and drew up in front of the heater, I was beginning to lose feeling in my toes.  So, the next day, I turtled up and wore, I mean, I bucked up and wore a turtle neck sweater, closed shoes and went proudly, only to be sweating mildly.

Anyway, the point is, when I mess up on such a grand scale while looking at the weather forecast for a place I live in, I can be pardoned for messing up on a trip, right?

We started out from Spot A to Spot B. Spot A clearly thought it was May, and had asked the sun to shine that way, while Spot B thought it was January. It is only when we got down from the car to take in the breath-taking view that one realized that breathing in was alright only because the air does not freeze.

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Chill-blaines crept up within an hour of being exposed and when I dashed into the department store for some milk, my mind was craving a good cup of tea.

“We can stop at Starbucks!” said fellow car-inmates, but I scoffed on an impressive scale even if I had to swallow some cold-ish air in the process.  I stuck my nose up in the air and said that Starbucks may have gotten a lot of things right, but an Indian tea? No Sir. Epic Fail. I miss the good old cuppa Indian tea more than I can say on trips like these.

A few minutes later, we had washed up ashore inside our rental spot and I was rattling about in the kitchen. The children got their hot cocoa and I made us some impressive Indian tea scented with cardamoms and ginger. Just the right amount of tea, right amount of sugar at the right temperature.

Tea Please
Tea Please

Allow me to enjoy a moment of contentment with the tea. When you visit a place like this, it is but natural to view the hot cuppa tea with a devotion meant for divinity.

Once the tea had made its way in and warmed our innards, I confessed that it had been for the tea that I had dashed into the house at the last minute.  All was forgiven, and I got the indulgent eye from everyone. “You and your tea!”

Yes. Me and My tea and proud of it! Well, even NPR covered the tea:


In the words of George Orwell:

Much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tea leaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet.


P.S: This has already become a decent length blog.  I just might follow it up with another tea-blog for, ‘Traveling and Tea’ brings so many memories flooding into the brain.

Warm milk

Any coffee lover seeing me order a coffee prefers to shrivel up and die a slow decaffeinated death. I find a size that isn’t even on the charts on the board, and order one smaller than that. As if this embarrassment were not enough, I would stress on the extra milk and 1/2 shot of coffee.

“There ISN’T even a half shot of coffee available!” the husband would say looking embarrassed, and shuffling his feet. Clearly, for a macho coffee lover, it is uncool to be seen in public with a coffee douche. In fact the general consensus on the male coffee lovers club seems to be that bad enough the spouse is a coffee-douche, but is shamelessly admitting it? It could be a blow to any male’s ego.

I now know how a peacock must feel. Going around strutting with all those colorful feathers and generally trumping up the importance of color in life. Even the far off rainbow seems impressed. Then, the female of the species comes along, in a stunning white, and still looks graceful as hell without any of the colors. That must have ticked off the peacock a good deal.

What I am getting at is…The male is proud of taste buds, yada yada yada, female blah-blah.

A few months ago, I decided to make matters worse and cut coffee. ‘I’ll go for Tea’ I announced high-handedly. It wasn’t like I was making a sacrifice. In fact it is documented fact that my brain reacts to tea like a camel spotting an oasis. The welcoming cup in the morning springs on the new day, and the whole day just goes on, basking in the warmth of the morning tea.
When the oracles of stress relief pounced on my ounce of tea in the morning, I decided to let go. “Caffeine is the worst!”, they proclaimed. Reading about caffeine one day, I decided to cut the miserable loner of a cup of tea in the morning and rough it out. I bunged in the Philosophical line “What is life without a few sacrifices?”, and had a warm glass of milk in the morning instead.

I might as well have popped a few sleeping pills. Not one of these folks told me the effects of warm milk on sleepy brain cells. The cells went into a kind of a stupor. I was snoring with my eyes open, and at one point might even have been drooling.

That wouldn’t do. I mean I still have to make a living and snoring droolers don’t make a living. I think I’ll stick to the cuppa tea in the morning and battle the effects of caffeine. Or I may switch to decaffeinated tea and see how that goes.

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