Musings: Endless Cups of Tea



There is no problem in the world that tea cannot fix.” – Anonymous

Anyone who knows me surely knows three things about me: I love reading, I love cats and I am in love with tea. When I first moved to Mumbai, I lived with my cousins who were equally addicted to tea as I was. We would take turns in making tea the first one and half months I lived with them. My office thankfully has a canteen that has an endless supply of tea. All my life, I have lived in a house where tea time was considered sacred.

The breakfast tea, the midmorning tea, the evening tea and the late evening tea – all the four times were equally special to us. I have jokingly referred to myself as a tea addict on countless occasions. But it wasn’t until this morning, as the train chugged along the Western Line, that I realized why my fondness and love for tea has grown ten-fold since the time I first set foot into my apartment.
It wasn’t the tea that I was in love with at all. It was everything the cup of tea represented that made me long for another cup all the time.

My mornings are no longer punctuated with my mother’s good morning ringing across the room, nor do I hear the faint paw steps of the cats as they follow her into my room. Right now it’s just me standing over my induction cooker, waiting for the water to boil so that I can make myself a cup of tea to get me started for the day.

It’s been years since I have heard my sister’s voice from the other end of the room yelling, “Genri, cha!” And it has of course been a fair few months since the time Gauri di has come into my room, telling me to get up because the tea was ready! 

My morning teas were always accompanied by morning hugs and kisses from my mother and the cats. There is no one here to give me that kind of warmth. Hence, it is not surprising that I have been looking for that warmth in my endless cups of teas. My mother and my sister aren’t here to sit on either side of me, talking nineteen to the dozen, as I listen to them. Now, it’s holding my phone up and lying back while the conversation takes place across three different cities! Technology did bring us closer but I have never missed them more in my life.

Evening cups of chai are not shared either at the house or at the corner of Nandan with the mini-devil. Nor have I wandered around this city with a colleague-turned-friend on a rain-kissed evening hunting down the perfect cuppa of tea. 

Some days when the work is a little less, it takes place right outside of office. Or in the canteen, as we talk about things that matter – making ends meet, paying bills and figuring out how much of housework could we possibly get done over the weekend. I like the new company. I really do. But I miss that these chats don’t wander down to lanes where I left my first love, or the time when someone confided in me about the time they let a boy get too close to them. We talk but our conversations don’t take place. It’s rushed between the five minutes we can spare from lifting our heads from work.

I miss wrapping my shawl around myself and cupping the warmth of tea in both hands. I miss the earthen pot the tea is always served in back home. Instead I have an endless supply of paper cups, and glass cups that need to be returned when I am done. I don’t get to throw the earthen cup the ground and stamp on it, either for fun or out of indignation.

Some days I drink endless cups of chai, desperately trying to hold on to memories. Trying to find the hugs I knew would have been there if I were only in Kolkata and not here in a city that never sleeps. People drink their teas and move on. No one stops for a conversation anymore. I don’t think too much about it. Once in a while, when I put my feet up and snuggle down with my copy of a John Green novel, I peer outside of my window with my tea mug in my hand. Maybe everything is not perfect right now. Maybe it will take a long time for me to be okay with not sharing the kinds of cups of tea I have been used to.

But for now, this cup of tea will do.

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