Finally I get the Englishmen and their tea drinking. I think I’ve spent around 12 days in total in England but I’ve seen it in movies. If something bad has happened, if someone is in distress they are always offered a cup of tea and then all the problems are miraculously solved.
In India it is pretty much the same thing. Here you will find a tea stall in every street corner and most probably you will find some in between. Chai is the gods sent gift to the Indian people. And to me I have come to realise.
I’ve done quite a bit of traveling on trains and busses in India and the same scenario occurres every time I get off the train or the bus. The rickshaw, tick-tuck or taxi drivers are waiting for customers and when they see us coming they close in, getting very close, cutting off ones way so you can’t move in any direction and everyone starts asking Where are you going. I did the mistake a few times to tell them where I was going and someone would immediately take my bag and start walking towards his vehicle.
To start negotiating about the price at that point gets difficult. So I did a few expensive rides. Sure, I could live with that, but I was annoyed with myself for not figuring out how to deal with that stressful situation. And who wants to pay 10 times more than the next person.
One early morning after doing a 20 hour train ride, I just couldn’t deal with all these tuck-tuck drivers. I was tired and hungry and I just needed some chai. So when the drivers attacked me with Where are you going, I just said To have chai. First they didn’t understand, got a bit confused, but then they all got very friendly and pointed out the best chai stall.
So I sat there, I got my chai, I had a sip and a deep breath, and even though the Indian hustle and bustle was going on in front of me, I felt calm. I realised that this was the best way to handle any stressful situations, I just go and have chai. It gives me time to collect my thoughts and after that i can start a fresh.
That is when I realised why the Englishmen love their tea. Tea solves all the problems not because it is a miraculous cure but because it gives you the time to calm down and think things through.
In India I drink chai for a lot of different reasons. One of them is to cope with stressful situations as I mentioned above. But the main reason is that wherever I have stoped for a chai I also had an interesting conversation. And that combo has become my favorite activity in India.