It is a very interesting sight indeed to watch a whirlpool getting formed in the sauce pan when you boil tea with milk along with shreds of cardamom. The aroma of boiling tea seasoned with the best of breed cardamom from the winding ghats of Wayanad brought back a hoard of memories during tea time at various stages of life.
I remember reaching home after school around four o’ clock in the evening where a hot cup of milk mixed with the likes of Complan, Bournvita or Horlicks awaited me. There was hardly a day when this delicious cup of milk was not accompanied by any of the traditional tea time snacks from God’s Own Country. I was so excited when we got a free cup along with a one kilogram pack of Complan. I recollect the writing on the cup with Complan written in red color. That was meant to be my favorite cup for years to come.
Time flew by and I graduated from shorts to pants and so did the evening snacks. If frequent visitor programs existed at that time of history for retail outlets, I would’ve definitely been at least a gold member with the local bakery. The options you could get were minimal compared to these days though I distinctly remember having a huge craving for delicacies like butter buns, sweet nans, puffs and similar such stuff. The budget available of course was very minimal that you could hardly have one or two of these and that too occasionally. Probably that’s why these were precious and tasted heavenly!
Stepped into the campus mode where college canteens and other similar hangouts became a part of life. Tea time with family was becoming a rarity with this change. Nevertheless in that age and psyche it never posed any kind of regrets. That was the order of the day. Soon it was time to leave the town I was part of for 20 odd years and migrated to a totally alien city, the Manchester of South India - Coimbatore.
The steel tumblers of the college hostel welcomed us with options for coffee and tea with unlimited supply. We had formed a core group of friends and soon realized that the tea shops at the backyard of college campus hold much better goodies than the liberally liquidated tea or coffee which the hostel mess could offer. There I discovered to my amusement a wonder called half-tea! The hot samosas, chewy mushroom Manchurians and the little wonder served in the tiniest glasses called half-tea filled our evening discussions. The random flights that take off from the Coimbatore airport in the backdrop gave the whole evening a dramatic experience.
The garden city of India was my next destination. Bangalore redefines your way of life. My days there started with some learning at NIIT when I was staying along with my dearest cousin sister at our aunt’s place. Needless to say most of the tea time was back at home and I was happy to reclaim the days with family during evenings.
This was followed by a stint of project work at a small IT firm, one of the multitudes of technology companies in Bangalore, which if laid down on a map will give competition to the herds of wild beasts treading the Sub-Saharan terrain. I had moved to single room occupancy and the nearest tea shop became my usual place for evenings.
My career got officially kicked off shortly and the distance to office meant that I reach back home only for dinner. The catering company operating the office cafeteria was destined to get the tea bills paid by me for the next few years. Colleagues and friends were the tea-mates during this part of my life. The cups of tea witnessed the debates surrounding why that was a great place to work and why that wasn’t.
Seasons changed fifteen times and I was slated to take my first ever international flight as part of an assignment. Residence Inn, a property by Marriott was to be my abode for the next quarter. Here happened the biggest change in my tea time life. Marriott offered good options for tea and coffee. But it wasn’t that which attracted us the lesser mortals, from the land where you get to drink this only by paying a handsome amount. Beer! It was flowing and plenty that too! Tea time gave way to the sparkling yellow chilled drink and that was promptly supported with chips and hotdogs.
Few months down the line life took a full turn with marriage on cards and tea time resurrected with the concept of family taking center stage. The flavors of tea and coffee filled the home since the preferences were different. A middle line was drawn during this stage as depicted in an earlier post. Believe there is a direct proportion to the grey hair and the grey matter. As every other couple we also evolved. The middle line was not required any more. The tea time was unified again.
The land where ‘1001 Arabian Nights’ was born, laid down the magic carpet for us. Evenings in Dubai became even better with office hours finishing early, giving us ample time to be together and tea time has become even more fun. With the kid growing up it has turned into a full-fledged game of acrobatic-tea where you try your best to have a sip from the cup by skillfully avoiding the little fingers holding it and dragging it towards him.
I think it is all about life. Tea time.