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September 17, 2011

Chai Chahiyay, Kaunsi Janab..Lipton hee toh hai mmm La Jawab…

Can you imagine being of Desi origin and not go a day without drinking tea. Shocking as it sounds, it happened to me this weekend as I dared myself to not think about this heavenly concoction for atleast 2 days. Mushkil! As a recent chai addict, I failed miserably ofcourse, I mean one cannot turn down chai when offered by Aunty when visiting a Pakistani relatives home, I didn’t want to be rude.

I wasn’t always like this, far from it actually. For most part of my life, I hated the boiled water and tea bags. I would look at my parent’s in a strange manner and just observe as they sipped their chais and ate their rusks in the mornings at breakfast. What was about it that made them drink 3-5 times a day. At that time it was beyond me, but it fascinated me to an extent. So recently as I asked my mother why does she drink tea so much. Her response “Beta, gharmaish miltee hai” (Son, it gives warmth inside). Quite an interesting theory mom, as if we need any more “gharmaish” we live in one of the hottest places on the planet, there is gharmaish all year along, why don’t you stand in the sun for half an hour. Ok I didn’t say that to her, but the thought was there.

But usually I would ask the chai addicts, kya khaas baat hai issmay? (whats so special?), I would usually get the mundane responses of pata nai ( I don’t know), or bass mazza aata hai peeni main (We just enjoy drinking it), so I guess that is a reason enough to drink it, to enjoy it. But, there is so much more to it than just that. When one thinks about it, chai is a symbol of our (Pakistani) tradition. It is a custom which influenced by the British, has become an important part of our culture.

When one visits a relatives home, the host would offer chai usually along with biscuits or cake. When friends get together, one would drink chai, or even when one goes for a rishta, if the girl can make good chai, rishta pakka ;). Where the non-Muslims celebrate their occasions with alcohol induced drinks like champagne, wine, beer, we celebrate with Mithaais (sweets) and chai.

Chai is a fascinating thing, I fell in love with it when I visited Lahore after 8 years. I didn’t realize the amazingness of it till then.As one cold night our family sat on our Khalas(Aunts) roof, with blankets around our backs, we drank chai and talked for hours about what we had missed for the good part of 8 years, the politics, the jokes, the marriages that took place, so much. At that time I had drunk around 3 cups of chai without realizing that, it  was the most I’ve drunk ever, not that I required rehab after, but I did feel warm inside, it was a nice feeling talking and drinking, a nostalgic moment.

I guess most part of my life I’ve avoided chai in the fear of not turning into my parents or my uncles, in my mind, chai is an adult drink, only old people drink it while the adolescents and young adults prefer a cooler Coke. I guess even cooler image would be a guy in a Gucci suit drinking cappuccino or some form of coffee, maybe it has more class. I understood the purpose of coffee, but never chai. I did drink the occasional coffee especially when I had to sit exams or study, but chai never had the same effect, even though coffee tasted yucky to me too. But whatever the reason, the taste of chai for a long time just didn’t settle in until recently that is.

One of the reasons, I believe is that making chai is actually a small form of art, some can make it, some just can’t even though it is one of the simplest things one can do, it still requires some experience. A cup can have too much flavor of tea, or too much sugar or too little, or the water may not be the right temperature, in order to fully enjoy it, one has to come up with perfect timing of the four elements of tea, milk, water, and sugar. It is quite interesting too, like food, everyone who makes chai, has their own taste, no one chai tastes the same, this is experience talking 🙂

So at 25, as I take a sip of chai from my cup, I think to myself, why did I write about chai as my first blog. I feel the transition from apple juice, to coke, to chai has officially made me feel grown up. What I thought about my parents and uncles, is just the inevitable, I have accepted the fact that I am desi, and chai is a part of me and my culture, might as well get used to it especially since it just started to taste so damn good with cookies. So here’s the end, if you ever want to feel like an adult (goes out to immature folks =P) have a cup of chai, it will give you super powers of adulthood and gharmaish.

PS.. best chai is served at Trainstations Cafeterias around Pakistan or so I’ve heard…


From → The Blogs

  1. Loved it! If you’re brown, chai’s in your blood.. As kids we are perplexed by adults’ fascination with that strange beige beverage, but it soon takes us over too haha

    • lol true.. all grown up now *sniff sniff

      having said that, I drink chai with my parents now, this time around, my 7 year old niece looks at me in awe (or so it seems) 😀

  2. And the lipton ad’s a classic, never gets old 😀

  3. Xehra permalink

    Damn it! Now I want the chai, like right now 😥

  4. Ayesha permalink

    hahah wow! i was searching for chai recipes and somehow it led me to this blog! very well written. I too have just recently started loving chai, especially kashmiri chai..simply amazing! And I agree, chai tastes best in Pakistan!

    • thanks =) …yea Love Kashmiri chai too.. Chai Latte is my new love

      • Ayesha permalink

        chai latte from where?

      • annyyyyy… costa, gloria jeans, starbucks.. even one that comes in small packets it

      • Ayesha permalink

        acha? hmmmm, chalo I’m going to try it from starbucks, don’t have any of the other places here =/ thanks though! oh and next time, add a pic of your chai, it’ll add a personal touch, nai? 😉

      • lol NP.. okay will do 🙂

      • Ayesha permalink

        lol ok kool 🙂

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