October 30, 2002

Chai

Approximately thirteen clockwise stirrings followed by a same number of the anti-clockwise variety is what it takes to adequately dissolve the two teaspoons of sugar required to sweeten my morning mug of tea. Three shavings of ginger and three seeds of cardamom forced open with an old coffee container spices up the concoction. The pleasures of life on your own is crude most of the times, but it is sweet and simple too.

An odd cobweb stands as a disinterested, mute witness to life progressing in a room marked by three wilting flowers stationed in the makeshift vase of an old vodka bottle in a dusty corner. From its standard issue of a mattress, a bucket and a duffel bag, life in general has acquired so many add-ons over the past four years, but the core remains the same. The bag is still there, the mattress was lost somewhere in the process of having lived out the bag in as many as six rat holes in an equal number of months. The bucket was lost to some holi-crazed hooligans, who found it ideal to pour coloured water over unsuspecting souls, when three of us impoverished students used to share a tiny room on the terrace of a four storied building.

To be honest, most of the times the script is really lousy. Well, other than for the odd day or so that you get to spend the way you want to spend it, which sort of mistakenly represents the whole drama. Otherwise you seem to be perpetually running out of either sugar, coffee powder, detergent or the gazillion tiny things that always manages to get exhausted the moment you just do not want it to. Of course, I should mention that there does not exist even a single moment of the other variety. Just when you breathe a sigh of relief that the latest round of bill payments are over, the calendar mockingly reminds you that it is the end of the month. Oh dear, here we go again.

Some run races only to win, to show-off their trophies and feel proud about it. Others like me run just for the simple yet beautiful satisfaction of having run it. Come to think of it, four years back I could not even get a train ticket reserved by myself. Yes, you can have the podium dear sir, but I am racing only with myself. We are just finishing lap 23 and my race is not over yet. Please do play a modest anthem for me when all the din dies down, for every lap is a victory for me, no matter how insignificant it might be for you.

Backed by hindsight and a mug of not-so-sweet tea inside me, I can reliably inform you that approximately thirteen stirrings with and against the ways of the clock is not enough, it has to be somewhere around eighteen to twenty, twenty five even. On second thoughts, you can add another teaspoon and a half of sugar too.

Then again, you might not like tea the way I make it.