Thursday, July 25, 2013

Chai Wallahs

India is a unique and diverse country with amazing characteristic styles that lean on brink of being bizarre. The ubiquitous road side scene is large number of people on road, shanty shacks, and tea shops. The roadside in case of Indian baazars are dotted with pan shops, kirana stores, chaat wallahs and the chai wallah. 

The chai wallah may be nothing but a rickety hand cart or a small shop tucked away in a row. The latter may also be selling a wide variety of Indian fried snacks.  Thee hand carts selling tea in India are most numerous. In Southern India they may  also be selling coffee.   

The daily draws have a well set rapport with the chai wallah. Local business persons, office workers and visitors frequent these stalls and spend reasonable time listening to the chai wallahs banter or just gape at the World go past. 

The brewing style is as mesmerizing as the ensuing aroma is. The boiling liqueur is literally tossed in the air and collected back in the pan with acrobatic ease. In between sugar, spices and leaf are added algorithmically.  Each chai wallah has a unique way of brewing and serving the final concoction. 

The usual medium is small cheap glasses that do not cause any concern if broken or lost. These are briskly washed with murky water and steaming stream of tea poured into them. The liqueur is a thick extract of all the aromatic as well as non aromatic constituents of the tea leaf and the masalas. Nevertheless you get a flavor that does not distill during the brewing at home. The flavor and aroma is addicted and hence tea makers in the offices rust within a short period of disuse.  

The chai wallah and his masala tea are irreplaceable for the masses in India. Everywhere you go there is one serving the magic and steaming. Be careful or you will end up with scalded oral cavity.  

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