The Golden Days
The Golden Days
To travel is to learn, unlearn and relearn.
The immense escape and real-world experiences are an encyclopedia in itself. It takes a lot of courage to walk through an unknown street in a foreign land, bargaining for souvenirs while tasting local cuisines. There are cities who have taught me new languages, then there are places that have exposed me to the cultural similarities and differences across nations. While gaining independence, and developing unparalleled social skills, you will also learn something that is and not will be taught in any textbook or extra-class.
You will learn about yourself.
Devoid of any peer pressure or constant expectations, you find your true self. Travelling is the secret tonic of creativity. That make-it-happen attitude comes only when you are comfortable in your skin and a new city often does that to you.
Book that flight, take that road-trip or run behind that train and get your feet dirty and hair messy. For when you come back to whatever was bothering you sometime back, a new perception will save your sinking ship. When we travel, we not only leave our homes, we leave our comfort zones and habits. And believe it or not, all of us need that at some time in our life, sometimes multiple times.
And when you begin to fall in love with places so hard that your heart breaks a little every time there is a time for goodbye, you will know that travel was more about education than a vacation.
In my hostel room, I boil water, pour it out in a cup, add a tea bag and wait for a couple of minutes, before I Instagram it. Hashtag Chai. Chai is now a companion to my ‘me time’; an attempt at reminiscing about what I have now moved away from – my home, which takes it tea very seriously.
They say that the sense of smell helps evoke memories. But my cup of Chai in my hostel room, takes me nowhere. Rather, it is the simple act of preparing it that transports me to different places: the tea gardens right across my grandfather’s backyard, the subtly stained cups and pans which are bearers of this sacred tradition called Chai, the banter and conversations we dipped our Samosas in, the taste of melting jaggery on my four-year-old tongue, while Aaita sipped on her evening tea from one of those bell metal (Kaanh) bowls.
The dictionary in my home defines Chai as a noun, an action, an hour of the day. It is therapy in the form of a beverage, a report on the day’s events, an hour of storytelling, an excuse to sit together and consume snacks and regional news alike. It is a party for people who love staying home.
I come from a family where conversations begin, linger and end over Chai. Sometimes, the banter ends sooner and other times, the tea is forgotten to be had, until it’s cold soup. Sometimes, biscuits sink in anticipation, other times, pakodas take the center stage. In my family, somebody’s eyes are the shade of a perfect cup of Chai, and someone’s skin is a shade darker.
Diabetic mother has now switched to green tea. To accompany her, I sip on my green tea in another city. Friends and lover are not even Chai enthusiasts, but sometimes take a sip from my glass. I let them because I miss the drama back home, where we fill our cups to the brim and silently bond over Chai time.