Chai Garam

“Chai garam, chai garam”, was the alarm that woke you up when you cozily snuggled on to your pillow on a steam engine driven train journey. The sound, the smell and the feel is still fresh…. No one will remember the early morning cuppa that is served these days in the AC compartment of an up-market train, I bet, after forty years! The aroma of the tea doesn’t reach your nostrils (it’s sealed inside the flask!). You need to open the flask (it contains only hot water), jostle with the tea bag, sugar and powder milk sachets to finally prepare your watery tea in a plastic cup. Does that any day compare with the well brewed (or cooked?) decoction served to you in a wet, fragrant (the clayey smell!) kulhar (clay mug)? It is garam (hot) and it is chai (tea). It is for me, at least….may not be totally according to the taste of many (more sugar, spices and perhaps, too strong!). It may be termed unhygienic by some, but honestly can you compare the clean, use and throw kulhar to a reusable plastic mug? It’s difficult, isn’t it? This generation which has grown up amongst fancy, up-market coffee joints serving the most innovatively named teas, perhaps, cannot relate to this nostalgia. But no problems…..to each one his own! Let them destress themselves in the cozy confines of the cafes but for me the memory of chai garam (and my tea cup in my hand) is more than enough for relaxation.

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