Amma’s Chai and My Green Tea

Amma’s Chai…and My Green Tea m

Chai…the common beverage that made the morning of any  Simlaites a very good morning, was a quintessential morning ritual in every little home. When it would be cold, we would look forward to a cup of hot tea in the morning. Those mornings were special for many reasons. We woild wait to see whether Amma would make it in the brass pateela for making tea or the aluminium tea kettle recently added to her paraphernalia. We would love it, if it was the kettle…so much excitement would follow. Amma would put up the tea kettle…the aluminium tea kettle with a trunk like 

Protruding outlet for pouring tea in cups. When water would heat up and make humming sounds, she would add dry sonth powder, green cardamom, dry tulsi leaves to it and let it boil. Then she would add spoonfuls of sugar and tea leaves to it, and leave it to boil over the angeethi. We would be sitting around the angeethi watching the magic.  It was one of our games to watch the hot vapours come out from the kettle trunk and vanish slowly in the atmosphere. Sometimes, I would put my hand against the vapours and little droplets of water would accumulate on my palm. Sometimes we would stuff the trunk with a piece of paper rolled to fit it. When there would be no outlet for the vapours, the lid of the kettle would start jumping to the delight of all the kids sitting around the angeethi.  These were the small joys of life that made our life interesting. By the time the hot tea, boiled to get all the extracts of tea leaves, sonth and cardamom would be squeezed by the process, we would sit waiting for Amma to add glassful of milk to it. The kettle lid would be put off, the boiling tea, a dark brown in colour would be visible to us in the tea pot. Amma would gradually add milk to it. The cold milk woild soothe the rising current of the boiling tea. The tea would be pacified, it’s darkness gone, and a very pleasant colour would come to it.Amma would boil it once more, till all the droplets of milk were completely immersed in the tea water. The boiling would continue for some more time but now the tea could cole out when it boiled up…so Amma would be careful to get it down the moment it would make the best attempt to come out of the container or kettle. The aroma of freshly boiled teaveould fill our nostrils and holding the cups close to the Angeethi, we would wait for our turn. But Amma would, sprinkle a little of the tea to the agnidev, the fire god, to appease it.first of all.  I would ask her, why do you, everyday, sprinkle a little on the coals?” As the coals would fim a little after that. ” To feed all our ancestors!” She would say with a peaceful expression her face, ” it keeps your ancestors happy. ” 

Once the ancestors would be satiated, now would be the turn of us mortals.  Amma would pour tea into the cups and then from the milk container would add spoonfuls of thick cream to each of the cup. Ah!! What a ritual it would be…a long and a sacred one. 

Now, I go to the kitchen, mechanically. Make green tea for me just by dipping the sachet in the hot boiling water. I don’t know what does it contain but going by the label, it contains everything needed for an aging lady during Corona times. I don’t add any sugar, may add some honey at times. And start sipping the tasteless boiled water, so called green tea, down my throat  while quickly glancing at the updates on FB, Twitter etc.  And am ready to face the day, so call another workday in my life!

My ancestors, up in the heaven, keep on waiting for the first sprinkling of freshly boiled tea, and I keep on missing the taste of my childhood chai where the biggest ingredient was a mother’s love,!  

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