Don’t worry if you didn’t understand the title of this post. It is a popular Hindi expression which translates to – “A chat over tea”. This expression was made popular recently by our Prime Minister Modiji (the ‘ji’ is added in Hindi to mark respect, much like ‘Mr.’ in English or ‘San’ in Japanese). It is a new strategy in which matters of state are discussed over a cup of tea- with cabinet members, leaders in opposition or heads of other nations. It is in continuation of his background as a ‘chaiwalla’ or a tea seller and his fondness of elaborately naming every single thing. It didn’t just start with him though.
It is one of our favourite pastimes throughout India (I might be generalising a bit here). Every evening (for some, mornings as well) people get together to have some tea and chat. The people drinking tea together could be family members, college friends, colleagues or even strangers who find a common topic of interest. It is such a common activity that I was forced to switch from coffee to tea! The craze about chai is best illustrated by the numerous memes and jokes that are doing the rounds in social media.
So, you would understand when I say that I miss the chai-time here. While TU Delft’s campus is well-equipped with coffee machines on almost every floor of every building, the chai is still missed. It’s just not me though. Many of my ‘desi’ (Indian) friends share the same feelings. So we take some time off from our regular schedules to have some ‘chai pe charcha’ together. As everyone is busy these days, thanks to their thesis projects, more often than not we have to stick to coffee. But whenever we can find time we make some chai and catch up. We are missing many festivals from back home that we used to celebrate with our friends and family. So it is in ‘chai’ (and some other stuff) that we try to keep the desi-ness alive. The ISA (Indian Students Association) do organise many festivals in campus and these events bring the Indian community together to celebrate, but the traditional celebration is still missed.
Fortunately for us, Delft has many stores which sell the tea powder which is used in chai. Interestingly though the ‘tea’ referred to in general is different from ‘chai’. While tea is made by boiling tea leaves in water, strained and then mixed with milk and sugar, chai is made by boiling the tea leaves in milk directly. If you are interested in trying some ‘chai’ or if you are a desi but a complete novice in the kitchen then you can refer to the video below. Cheers!