Now that summer months are over, and the rainy season is on in some parts of our country, it is the time of cold and other infections. As such our country lacks cleanliness and civic sense and it is not surprising that the infections and fever are common among children and also among poor. So it is again, as you sow, so you reap. The two incidents which recently happened in the North East are the death of the famous writer Mahasweta Devi and the ending of the 16-year-old fast by the Manipuri iron lady, Irom Sharmila. Smt Mahasweta Devi stood for the oppressed, mainly tribal population, and fought for that marginalized society against the powerful Government and corporates with pen as her weapon. She is the winner of many prestigious awards for her writing and social work. Irom Sharmila's fast was to protest the enforcement of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur, giving Army special privilege to detain people in the name of law and order. She became the iconic lady of not just Manipur, but the whole of North East and her struggle is comparable to Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar who was arrested for 15 years by the military power because she oppressed their rule. Hats off to both these ladies who are resilient in their spirit and toughness. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
It's become a habit for me to write about some recent events before getting into the main topic. When it comes to tea, anything and everything can be written about it. I don't know when I developed fondness for this beverage, but I think it might be after my wedding when I started to make tea.
It's not that my mom makes bad tea, but I grew up drinking the so called energy drinks like Maltova, Cadbury's Drinking chocolate(which used to come in tins), Boost, Bournvita, Complan, another health drink which used to come and the name I am not getting now. Except for some 3 to 4 drinks, many of the brands are not seen in the shelves today. I don't know when I switched over to coffee, but I always enjoyed having these energy drinks and I still do! When we travel in trains, tea is always preferred over coffee because the former is more drinkable. We, tamil brahmins, are synonymous with filter coffee in which coffee is prepared everyday morning with fresh decoction. No instant coffee powder can match the taste of fresh decoction. But like others in our community, we are not addicted to having coffee everyday morning. My husband is fond of tea and so the fondness for tea permeated into me. Tea comparatively needs less milk. But for morning tea, I pour more milk which makes it heavy and wholesome. To add some spice, I sometimes put cardamom and ginger. A cup or tumbler of hot coffee or tea is synonymous with the fresh smell of newspaper. As the beverage gets cold, so does the news items in the newspapers. We do not feel like reading previous day's news which is same coffee/tea which has become cold. Only if I have morning tea, I can carry the rest of the work. Otherwise, my stomach starts grumbling. I look forward for weekends when I can read the news items and other articles in a more relaxed manner. Slowly sipping the hot tea and reading in a relaxed manner is a dream which women cannot afford to have all the time. I prepare tea by putting sugar and boil the water, then add tea powder and milk in the end. If any guest comes over and stays with us, we immediately switch over to filter coffee. So, adaptability is not a problem.
As one travels north, the taste of tea gets better. The tea which I remember was served in a small disposable earthen pot in Kharagpur station while we were on our way to Kolkatta. It tasted heavenly. Roadside teas which are served in disposable cups and accompanied by some bites(vada, samosa, kachori etc) is heaven on earth. It will keep you filled for sometime. Over a period of time, with lots of travel, I got used to having black tea, black coffee, lemon tea, cold coffee with relative ease. I used to work in a school for learning disabilities which had few students and we used to make black tea/coffee/lemon tea ourselves during breaks. There are various kinds of tea like Darjeeling tea, Lhasa tea, Lamsa tea(this one I did not like much), Munnar tea, China tea and so on. I am familiar with limited varieties of tea, but I am ready to try new ones if the situation demands! Coffee/filter coffee is almost the monopoly of South India, especially Tamil Nadu, but tea belongs to whole of India. If we find tough to adapt to various kinds of food during travel, especially leisure travel, tea and some good snack will always come to our rescue. When one talks about tea, can he/she leave the tea bags? I am still not the fan of tea served by dipping tea bags in a cup of hot milk/water, but I still remember the song for the ad of Taj Tea bags which goes like this:
"Dip, dip, dip
and the sugar, and the milk, and its ready to sip!
Do you want stronger,
Dip a little longer,
Dip, Dip, dip
And its ready to sip!"
And the tagline , "Wah Ustaad wah"...."Arre Huzur Wah Taj boliye"!!
My tea mugs...
Enjoy the cold, windy weather and Happy tea-ing!!!