December 02, 2005

Cutting corners

One is astounded to find that, outside the great Desh, almost nobody brews tea like it should be brewed. They instead dunk a dubious little tissue-paper bag supposedly full of tea-stuff into hot water and hope that something will happen. It does not. They might, in an effort to achieve a semblance of palatability, add milk and sugar to the concoction. After which, just to save face, they force themselves to drink it.

Now despite all that has been said and all that has remained unsaid about one’s culinary skills in general, it might be pointed out in all humility that one is something of an authority on the art of brewing tea*. For one’s recipe is taken from no less a figure than Rameshbhai, that fine specimen of chaiwalla-hood, he of the redoubtable larri-galla that lies snugly in that little lane off Ashram Road in the Hometown. He sells, for the princely sum of three rupees**, the most mouthwatering cuppa ever. Steaming hot, with just that right hint of ginger and cardamom. And it is never to be drunk from the cup. No, we frown at such jejune practices. For the liquid is to be poured into the saucer and slurped with suitable sound effects. If you happen to be perched sideways on your two-wheeler, the experience is complete.

Admittedly one is but a poor parody of Rameshbhai when it comes to preparing the potent infusion. But one is still a force to be reckoned with. One has actually fed one’s brew to several friends here (one hears the gasps of surprise that greet the implication that one has a social life, but lets them pass) and it has been uniformly and heartily appreciated. Really. Unfortunately the individuals who have tried it are not regular tea-drinkers, so one has no real adherents yet. But one is hopeful that someday one shall get hold of a diehard tea fan and convert him from teabag-user to tea-brewer. Finally one has a Mission.

* It appears that “tea” is one really global appellation – the words for tea in most languages are very similar because they’re all derived from a single Chinese word. (The word is pronounced somewhat differently in different parts of China, hence the difference between tea and chai.) Of course you always wanted to know that. Or maybe you already did.

** The equivalent five eurocents wouldn’t even persuade a chap here to let you sniff his tea. His teabag tea.

18 comments :

Aditi said...

chai walla at Ashram Road? do tell us more! we must have a conversation with one for more such detail about one's hometown!
am most interested

the Monk said...

oh, this is bad..the tea sucks too?damn, and i heard the coffee is horrible.....nothing to beat good old kandu filter coffee....funny, as usual..

Anjali said...

I have some terrible news for One. The insipid tissue paper bursting with lack of flavour has begun to make serious inroads into the great Desh as well. Perhaps it has not yet infiltrated Rameshbhai's tea stall, but it has certainly been spotted at several erstwhile bastions of tea-brewmanship. In these sad little places, pale imitations of their earlier glory, this dip-dip (as it is called) is actually considered a sign of (shudder) modernity.
Where are we headed? What will become of us? Perhaps One's Mission is much larger than One thought.

One in a Billion said...

Aditi : Well, if you simply step out of your institute and take a left on the main road you would find yourself on the said thoroughfare, at a crossing called Paldi. There you will find many things, including chaiwallas.

Monk : You have reminded one of filter coffee. One is now officially Depressed.

Anjali : The news causes one much agitation. How did this come to be? What unworldly shenanigans have the denizens of the beloved Motherland been up to in one’s absence? Admittedly the Mission is far greater than one had initially imagined. It is fraught with risk and riddled with grave perils. But one stands undeterred. One shall, once and for all, rid the Desh of this devious dip-dip.

*suitably poignant theme plays in background as one stands facing east, silhouetted against the setting sun*

sinusoidally said...

So when is one inviting bloggers to a tea party so that they can verify some claims made by him?

One in a Billion said...

Well .. that's an idea, Sines. A tea party. One shall be the Mad Hatter. You shall be Alice.

Rhyncus said...

They said there were two Chinese businessmen who decided that China was too small for the two of them. So one went East and one went West, selling their new wonder-leaf. One was called Mr.Ti and the other was christened Mr.Cha.

Mustang said...

Aah...and if there already wasn't much confusion, in US of A, the same tissue bag dipped concoction is called Chai Tea

which reminds me an age-old ad for some desi tea brand...it went something like:
Aree chai to chai hi hai, paani ubalo, patti daalo, dudh shakar milao aur pee jao, is mein kya khas hai
to which our dashing Deepikaji says:
Peeyo to jaano

neha vish said...

Actually - there is another Tamizh word for tea -
Te-neer. (Not frequently used) But I wonder...

One in a Billion said...

Rhyncus : It would appear, from Neha’s comment, that the intrepid Mr. Ti took a short southerly detour at the commencement of his westward journey!

Mustang : Wah! Wah! (At which point cute lady in backgound says “Arre huzoor, wah Taj boliye!”)

And chai tea? Gawd .. that's worse than pulao rice.

Neha : Doesn’t that mean water? Or maybe it’s just a similar word .. in either case, much linguistic intrigue.

PlanetSonal said...

... that someday one shall get hold of a diehard tea fan and convert him from teabag-user to tea-brewer.

diehard tea fan and teabag-user? - doesn't quite go well together ;)

Chailicious blog! Felt just like the chai brewed outside IIM in One's hometown, slurped, perching sideways on a two-wheeler.. and aah.. don't forget the paneer puffs!

One in a Billion said...

PlanetSonal, you're right. No true tea fan would be caught dead with a teabag in the first place. So this Mission thing simply doesn't hold water. Or chai-patti.

(You might think that one has nothing to live for any more. You would be mistaken. For, in this very commentspace, one has been informed of a far higher Mission, an undertaking of almost unimaginable magnitude. Hence one has been persuaded to prolong one's existence.)

Rhyncus said...

Ah yes, Neha's assertion reminds me. I always thought the Tamil (that 'zh' ending is used only by non-Tamilians) word for chai was 'Tea'. 'Tea saapiddalaama' was a very welcome invitation during my days in Chennai.

neha vish said...

I am Tam and I use zh - usually anyway. Like I said - the word isn't used frequently at all - But it translates to Tea-Water.

Rhyn-whatever - Please don't make assumptions.

deccanheffalump said...

Hiya -coincidence...read my blog for another take on Garam Garam chai
http://thecookscottage(dot)typepad (dot)com

One in a Billion said...

Deccanheffalump : Thanks for the link. Enjoyable post!

Drops Of Jupiter said...

As always the Jups makes a splendid recommendation- Arab Street-Al Majili's ..the "chai au masala" is simply simply too good, hell, you could compare it to Rameshbhai's chai..

Anonymous said...

The only place where they know how to make tea is in Yorkshire