Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chai 'o Nara or Tata, Tea

Drinking tea in Jharkhand is a strangely therapeutic experience. It is, I have realised, my way of getting the bad karma out of my system. Like calamine lotion on a seven-year itch, like lemon juice after a shot of Rasputin vodka - it soothes, it calms the nerves.

It has nothing to do with the beverage, mind you. The tea is the same ghastly stuff that looks and tastes like something you'd wash out of your hair. It's what they serve it in.

Kullad's are what potters make when they have to go to their in-laws for Christmas. They draw tiny faces on them, carefully inscribe the words "Uncle-Aunty tera muh kaala" and hurl them, with all their might at their neighbour's cat. It provides them with closure, it gives them peace, it is the poor man's squeezy ball. And it works. One act of destruction and you feel a strange sense of calm. There is no anger, no hatred. Just a syrupy aftertaste.

One lump or two?

Someday I will have a receding hairline.
Someday I will wear pajamas in the day time.


'Cause I'm the TAS-man
Yeah, I'm the TAS-man

So, I begin work on Monday, yeah. It's been a three-month vacation and I have serious doubts about how I am going to manage without my daily afternoon nap. I also wonder what it'd be like to do some work.

You see, I drifted through my years at Stephen's. XLRI was meant to be different. It wasn't. I gave presentations on the fly, off the cuff and into thin air. I authored reports that were almost but not quite entirely unoriginal (the ones that were original quite often started with limericks and Shel Silverstein poems).

But now, I'm going to get paid to get work done. That makes all the difference, doesn't it?
Er...does it?

Anyway, I will be working with TAS. It used to stand for the Tata Administrative Service, but, anxious to avoid comparisons with the sarkari IAS, it de-acronymised itself. It now stands, like ITC, for nothing at all.

So, raise your glasses please, and let us drink to new beginnings. Wish me luck and I'll send you either a Taj discount voucher or a used tea-bag.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

HumpTea DumpTea

Teaing Off
Forgive me. I’m not usually this direct. It’s the chai, you see. The lack of subtlety, the insipidity, the sheer lactoseness of it all. It had been simmering for a while, and now the whistle blows. To-Wit. To-Wit. Lift me up and pour me out.

All Aboard!
It's been a while since I last visited thecuttingchai. In fact, truth be told, I had almost dismissed it as a fad, a whim, rather like me playing bass for the Lungi Tambis

The Lungi Tambis
Peer closely, kind reader, for your eyes are not what they once were. Look beyond the bald warbler, the one whose oesophagus is preparing itself for the sudden arrival of a cordless microphone.
Let your eyes wander not to the kurta-clad knave on the ostentatious guitar - a mere masquerader, he.
Look, instead, for the man in the middle, the one with the black guitar and the blood-and-tear soaked t-shirt. What's that you say? No, he is not asleep, you impertinent young whippersnapper.

The Lungi Tambis was a band that grew out of one bass guitarist's dream, a dream to come hurtling down to flights of stairs and break his leg in two places. And that was when I stepped in. Much like the Performing Flea I have always admired, I made the gathering of innocent onlookers laugh till they cried till they laughed again!

Part 1: The Performing Flea
Michael 'Flea' Balzary plays bass for Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don't like RHCP. I think Chili should have a 'y' at the end. Or at least two 'l's. Flea has also acted in the movies 'Back to the Future II and III' and 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. Fear and Loathing, I did like. It was directed by Terry Gilliam, the only American in Monty Python. Monty Python was predominantly British and, to a greater extent, funny. Which is exactly what the other Performing Flea was.

Part 2: The Performing Flea
"The playwright Sean O' Casey", says Wikipedia, "was a major Irish dramatist and memorist". And while the working classes of Dublin will, no doubt, say a little prayer for him between pints of Guinness, he will forever be remembered as the man who called Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse a small wingless insect of the order Siphonaptera.

Ol' PG rather liked that, of course; he named his memoirs 'Performing Flea'. As far as he was considered, a performing flea was something to be. (John Lennon thought that about a Working Class Hero, but by then, of course, the Yoko was on him! Ono, not again!)

Wodehouse made it all look so easy. The casual transferred epithet ("I pronged a moody forkful of eggs and b"), the magical turn of phrase ("He was a tubby little chap who looked like he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say 'when'") - so simple, yet so out of reach. The kind of writing that would make you want to scream "Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey". And mean it!

English tea is terrible. It has camomile and lavender and some of last night's Turkey and Gravy in it but it still tastes almost, but not quite, exactly unlike tea.

We're back. It's then end of the road, or, if you will, the Beginning.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hoi-Tea Toi-Tea

A good miniature is a sugar-plum, you say? I beg to differ. There's nothing worse than an over-sized grape soaked in chashni so long that it bloats up and threatens to explode and plaster you with a gummy, viscous envelope that would take days of scrubbing behind the ears just to eliminate the purple patches. A gulab jamun, on the other hand, now that's something to be proud of. Well, yes, it's true. We do call them gjams. I am ashamed.

Thank you for the upper berth, by the way. I intend to sleep lots. Just the end-of-term doze. Four times daily, on a full stomach. And you are from Britain? Liverpool? Wonderful. You're traveling alone? Ah, of course, you folks will never walk alone. This is your family, I take it? The Fab Four on holiday! You took a wrong turn at Greenland, I see. Cal is not so bad, though. Just desserts for someone like me.

Tea? No thank you. I'm a tea-totaler myself. Coffee's always bean my stuff. It's a hit with the chicory, I'm told! You Teabodies, think you're the bee's knees. Jeez! Pretend you can't wake up without a dozen or so cups of the insipid stuff - luke-warm, milky, sickly sweet. Those Bostonians had the right idea. Chuck the whole ruddy lot into the sea, if you ask me. And then throw the tea in as well.

---------- An Apology ------------

Peccavi! I have sinned. Three paragraphs down and no illustrations. Mea culpa, mea culpa, me a mexican cowboy! The bed of nails for me tonight.

For starters, a wonderful piece from the early Kautilya school of art. Note the bold brush strokes, the clever interplay of light and shadow, the imaginative use of the BRAIN at the bottom of the coffee mug!

And then there's the Art Nouveau. This one is called "Nude in Hot Water For Three Whistles, Just a Dash of Milk and No Sugar Please, The Missus is Watching".

--------------Where were we?-----------------

Ah yes, of course. Tea. The instrument of the Devil. The poison of the masses. The matter of sores. The findings of ear-cleaners. The bane of my life.

I'm done.