“See, thats all. Its so easy to make tea”, Atha [My father] switched off the stove , served tea to both of us . We walked together to the cold veranda. It was his news paper time. The 10 year old me while dutifully memorizing the steps of how tea should be made for him next day, sat down with him sipping hot tea along with the days hot news. My first Sulaimani!! I was excited for being his official tea maker and getting to be in kitchen on my own. Little did I know then, that this drink is going to be an integral part of my life.
I was so proud the next day after our tea time, when Atha told Amma and anyone who visited us , “Ende molu endu nalla chaaya aanu ondaikkiyenno” [My daughter made such a wonderful tea]. Little did I know making tea would be one of the the most loved things that I would be doing the rest of my life.
After news paper, Atha used to go for his usual morning walk and bring back umpteen stories along with snacks, all sourced from the chaayakkada next street. Little did I know about this humble “Chai and Chayakkada”, that got together people from all around the place to that one little shop where anything around the world from politics to gossips to movies to small society secrets were discussed.
And finally after many years when we got a car, ..It was raining. Atha showed us a small shop, hardly 2 benches, with around 30 people – Some sitting, some standing and some others leaning on the tree nearby – all with a small glass of tea. I was happy to finally meet the chaiwala, his meter cup , tea flying from 1 cup to another and the art of tea making. My first memories of the famous chaayakkada!! Little did I know that , the ambience he created , hot tea with rain will be fondly remembered for a life time.
During the days in Chennai when beaches were our fav destination to share happiness, sorrow or simply pass time with friends, tea was a must have. Beach, hot tea and pakodas is still a killer combo.
During the first years of marriage, when hubby took me around Chennai introducing various eatouts, one of them was ginger chaiwala. Again small shop, this time no benches, with min of 50 people around – all with a glass of tea , sharing snacks and news of their likes. My first masala chai!!
I thought Chai was important only in India, until few years back when we shifted to Dubai to find out that “Kaawa” – the authentic Arab drink is said to be the origin of Indian Sulaimani
Any malayalam movie lover can easily recollect the famous scene from “Ustad Hotel” ,when the veteran actor Thilakan adds a bit of Cinnamon to make his special Sulaimani to my favorite D.Q. I realized again the Mohabbat [love] that “Chai” passes to generations.
With our friends and family, we do not mind travelling miles through the hot dessert to have tea at our favorite destination. The same ambience that my old chaiwala created!! Some on foldable chairs while others leaning on their cars, all with a glass of tea and sharing love and laughter. https://www.instagram.com/p/CM-Cg8xpSA_/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Its been 30 years since my first tea, but I still become the same old proud child when someone says “What a nice tea”, after sipping the tea I make.
From ginger, cardamom, cinnamon or clove, tea gels well with any spice, and there is always a Chai to suit any type of person.
Chai is omni present. Different culture, different places, different reasons, different conversations, different generations – Tea has the magic to connect people, bring them together , spread the Mohabbat and will continue to be so. I can see the likelihood of my story continuing, when my 11 year old is curious to know how to make tea and what we discuss during tea.