Rafi Uddin Mahmud
Chaiwalla is my therapist
Chai has never tasted as good as it did on the banks of the Holy Ganga, in the auspicious city of Banarus. Sacred fire pyres, smoke snaking to the skies as people bathe, and ashes of the loved are released to directly transcend. I even had a slice of apple pie. Yes - apple pie. Cardamom and clove and cinnamon steamed up from my terracotta cup, that I would later toss onto the stairs. I am told there are people who come to collect the pieces, melt them back to mud, and reform the cups once again. Renewal.
I've had chai on the train, chai like clockwork at work, sweet (misti) chai from sweet-talking shop owners me, chai from the rickshaw drivers, Of course, I even got sick from a cup of old roadside chai, so instead of chai that week,. Aunty-ji fed me mulmoora (puffed rice), water, salt and sugar. Orange-stained toothy smiles.
Chai is about gathering, a time to relax and consult and develop relationships. A sweet and brief moment, or a long conversation.
I made a couple exceptions. Only a couple times did I have coffee. The "cold coffee" at Greater Kailash 1 market, at the mom stand - a favorite among my fellow students from Kamala Nehru. With a few puffs of a cigarette, even, at the Indian coffee house in Kolkata, where some strangers and I tried to sound smart and look even smarter... and to try out the strong, dark, syrupy caffeine in Kerala. There is even Starbucks now in (mall in Delhi), but I'd rather take my chances with that roadside chai and puffed rice.
Reliable, constant, warming. Giver of clarity. The caffeine kick-in-the-butt. A dose of reality. It will always be there.
Chaiwalla would come like clockwork while working at NGOs in Delhi, Chaiwalla always
I think Chaiwalla
The COVID-19 pandemic may have shown us a glimpse of how important regular jobs are. CHaiwalla