Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stimulating Memories

I sit here sipping on a cup of Chamomile green tea and let it soothe my senses. I seem to be developing a cold and the warm beverage provides much needed relief. What it also brings along is a flood of memories today and for some reason I find myself thinking about the good times I have shared over a cup of tea or coffee…

When I moved to Bangalore in 2006, I stayed with an aunt of mine for a very short while. It was great since there was a familiar face in a new city as I came down here and that time allowed me to get acquainted with the city before I took off on my own. I spent some very good time while I was there since she is only a year elder to me (just don’t ask me how that is possible…it is complicated). We would spend many hours chatting away to glory and more often than not the conversations would continue early into the morning. The ritual towards the later part of my stay was to prepare two cups of Chamomile tea at (excatly) midnight and continue the chat. I think for the rest of my life the fragrance of Chamomile tea will remind me of her and those conversations…it’s a nice memory to have.

While walking the pavements of Jayanagar this past weekend we needed a place to sit awhile and chat. So we headed to the renovated Kalmane Coffee place (I do not like the new look guys…without Sankar’s your place just looks incomplete). While my sister went for a cold coffee, I ordered the regular favourite Nelyani Gold – filter coffee with a dash of cardamom. It was the first coffee I’d had at Kalmane way back in 2006 and the one I order most…I love it. Of course it also brings back memories of a very jobless Sunday spent in Forum mall the highlight of which was a rather long conversation in the company of Nelyani Gold and with some traditional Carnatic music playing in the background. That was my introduction to Kalmane Coffees and to good conversations…and it was one of the best-spent afternoons of my life.

Tea made a prominent appearance even as I travelled abroad with the familiar sound of the word ‘Chai’ falling in my ears (spelled as Caj in Slovak but pronounced the same). Of course they do not drink the same milk-boiled version as we do in India but it is just heartening to see the beverage being served in foreign land. And the experience was underlined by the fact that my dearest friend turned out to be the biggest connoiseur of tea. We could spend hours discussing tea or sharing descriptions of the lush tea-estates in the Nilgiris…and all over a heartening cup of tea. In fact I brought back a small sample of Nepal tea that she had given to me so I could drink milk-boiled tea there (which I had been sorely missing) and it is a prized souvenir now : )

Then of course there was that beautiful evening in that tea-house in Bratislava just before I left for Bangalore. There was an oriental tune playing befitting the ambience and the d├ęcor and people were looking very relaxed in that setting. For the first and last time while I was in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, I saw people sitting on the floor and absolutely at ease with it. I sat myself down while wondering if I hadn’t been transported to another land magically and absorbed it all in. It was a proper tea house where you actually smelled your tea before you chose what to order from among a wide gamut of teas spanning at least three continents and having all kinds of exotic names. A tea called ‘Sencha O Iwase’ is what I had…it was Japanese and was a nice mild concoction. The conversation I had that evening spanned so many topics that it felt like I was listening to an encyclopaedia. And the best part was the sight of the snow washed in the orange Sodium Vapour light and lined by black skeletons of leafless trees while walking alongside the Bratislava Castle wall…I will never ever forget the beauty I beheld.

Such and more stimulating memories make every cup of tea or coffee that I sip on an experience in itself. Here’s to the two well-loved beverages in India – tea and coffee…cheers : )

6 Thinkers Pondered:

Philip said...

A good tea does bring back memories. Maybe because tea is so widely drunk in such different forms that it is easy to associate a particular memory with the kind of tea that one had during that time.

eye-in-sty-in said...

aha! we have a connoisseur of fine tea :-)

Aparna said...

I love the smell of coffee and the taste of tea. Both beverages taste beter with good conversation. I remember drinking some ginger-tulsi tea on cold Delhi mornings. Heaven!

Anupama said...

Hey Philip,

Long time! Yes tea is definitely a special beverage what with all the rituals the Chinese and Japanese have around it...its quite interesting how one drink can be so different in form yet so similar in spirit...thanks for the comment :)

Hey Eye-in-sty-in,

Visited your blog and I must say...very very nice :) ...I'll be coming back for sure to enjoy some good writing :) ...thanks for the comment...a tea connoisseur yourself?

Hey Aparna,

Welcome to the blog and thanks for stopping by :) ...ah, who can beat the flavour of ginger is something that adds so much more charm to winter...thanks for the comment :) visit again...

eye-in-sty-in said...

not an avid tea drinker, but love the darjeeling tea gardens :-)
rows and rows of terrace-farmed tea saplings! Looks beautiful to the eye!

Neo said...

Zakaaas ! Indeed it's a pleasure to read such a nice blogpost on "Tea" ... I think I need not comment any more as you know "how much" I love TEA ... Amrutatulyacha vijay aso ... Cheers ! ;)