There is a nearly fatal addiction in masala chai. Before you realize, you have succumbed to its charms and delightful arousing flavor. I am a slave to this tropical beverage. And it’s imperative that I experiment continuously with new flavors. Yet, after so many experiments, I have come to realize that what I exactly want with my wholesome cup of pleasure hasn’t changed much over the period of time. There has been an addition of tanginess, and strength of the brew has increased over the period of time. That’s it, period.
No matter how much I relish this beverage, I wouldn’t want to be a tea taster. Not that I am not a sport enough, but the pleasure of sipping full cup is not the one to be relinquished for a small different sip here, and the other sip there. As the brew is put on the stove, the anticipation starts building. Anticipation of rejuvenating times that lay ahead. And it’s served hot. Now here is where the personal choice comes into picture. In my case, I know the exact amount of sugar, tea leaves and milk that I need to add. The spices added are also to my preference. There are friends of mine who would prefer organic or green cuppa. Whatever the color might be, the experience is not worth to end in the first sip. The first sip, the hottest one, excites the taste buds in your already salivating mouth. And as it flows down in the system, it invigorates the tired body (I still remember the magical effect Lipton Taza has on the fatigued dancer!). Two-three sips down, the brew begins to cool. With the classic brown Indian chai, you can enjoy the taste of masala in milk. As you sip it, and roll it in your mouth, you can differentiate tastes of elaichi, adrak, tulsee, and kaali mirch (There are the ones who like the hint of chocolate in their drink!). Your heart seems to like that tea-hour, and begins pounding faster out of all happiness. And then by the time you have made your way to three fourth of the cup, you have rebuilt the energy to fight the big bad world, and a sense of happiness prevails. And the addiction of caffeine starts working its way. By the last sip you are left wanting for more, mentally stimulated and physically charged.
If I would have to sum up, after discussions with numerous happily and unhappily married couples
, I would sum up a marriage as enjoying a big, good cup of tea throughout life. Probably this is the reason I would want to settle down. After all sipping tea is one of the happiest moments in my entire day. If I like the company of my man in the “mad bull charged in the china shop years”, I would also want to see how he mellows with the wisdom of old age. I remember my father as a slightly distant figure in younger years, but he seems to be getting more assertive and talkative with age. And this holds true for all individuals. Therefore I have come to believe that concept of getting bored in a marital alimony is fictitious. Every individual gets adulterated with experiences of life, grows and evolves. Yet there is an awareness of the fact, that basically deep down the individual is the same, like my cup of tea, with milk and sugar and water, and of course tea leaves of my choice, the merging spices might vary from day to day. It could be that there are days when I want no spices at all!
At times my cook prepares a good tea for me, the other times it’s not palatable for me. My mother’s tea seems to have completely different taste from mine! And then to my surprise there are days when the local chaiwallah prepares an exquisite cup. The methods to get that perfect cup of golden brown liquid might vary, but preferences of the type of liquid doesn’t change at all. The intent is, how I meet him could be under very different and surprising circumstances, but what I want from him is not altered the similar way my taste for chai differs from my mother’s.
I know I wouldn’t enjoy my chai unless I am not really (and here really means really from the core) craving for it. There are days when overdose causes acidity, and under dose leaves me dizzy. There have been days that I have burnt my mouth, and days when it turned cold in the cup, while I was busy attending issue of the moment. But the love affair has continued!
So here we raise a toast of that liquor (my mother actually terms my preparation as liquor, owing to its extra strength and she has some good words for its extra sweetness), toast for our lives!