Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Ethereal Night

Nights are always magical, always have been and a window with a wonderful view makes it all the more beautiful.  I switched off the lights in my room and gazed out across the river.

Looking out I see the fantastic buildings of Manhattan.  The twinkling red lights atop the sky scrapers, the occasional plane whizzing by, the ship across the inky black waters of the Hudson, the myriad dispersed lights in the buildings, the moving lights from the cars I see moving across the river far far away, the majestic Empire State building with its fiery lights at the top, the Chrysler building with its bright arc shaped lights, the blue clock tower, the red neon light. 

Its not just the lights which make it so serene.  This sounds strange but it is the silence of the lights which make it so.  I tried capturing the moment on a camera, but the tranquility of the moment couldn’t be.  As the notes of Floyd wafted from my laptop, I was at peace with myself and at peace with the world.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Random Impressions

When will Spring be here?

Random Red Cube

Yeah, thats the whole building!

The way to Dollars:  Showbiz or Investment Banking

My Favorite icecream

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cheers to Chai

It has been a while since I have been hunting for that perrrfect Cup of Chai from the best hotels to the roadside tapris. The right blend of weather, spice, water, milk, tea leaves, other edible accompaniments  and the company can alter the entire tea drinking experience
This ubiquitous drink that everyone can afford in the world, keeps the mornings awake and the world going.    

In an old Chinese legend, Shennong, a legendary Emperor of China was drinking a bowl of just boiled water when a  few leaves were blown from a nearby tree into his water changing the colour.   The emperor on sipping the brew was pleasantly surprised by its flavor and rejuvenating properties. I certainly am glad, that the leaves got blown into his water though!


Well, for me so far there was Kadak Chai, Cutting Chai, Masala Chai, Adrak wali Chai, Lemon Tea and Peach Tea but on expanding my horizons, across the world, Cha, Chai or tea as it is called mostly is had in several forms.  There are at least six varieties of tea:  white, yellow, green, oolong, black and pu-erh of which the most commonly found are white, green, oolong and black.  There s also a herbal tea.

The perfect moments for having Chai:

Boy Meets Girl:
In India, in the scenario of an arranged marriage, when the families meet at the girls place, the shy girl usually brings Chai for everyone with nervous shaking hands and a clattering tray.  This oft-repeated scene has never failed to make me laugh at those arChaic (they still exist though) times. J  Well, though now, humble Chai is now replaced by the Coffee at CCD or Barista ofcourse with no nosy parents around.

In the train
With the Chaiwalas yelling Chai Chaii in their characteristic nasal tone, when the train reaches a station early in the morning, the sleeping wake up and long for that cup of tea despite being bugged at being rudely awakened!  Oh yeah, and the Chai in the Kulhad or earthen pot are always special!

330 P.M at work when the Chai tapri opens
Tea breaks have always been welcomed at work, for most guys at office, it translated into a sutta break as well..Despite the awful Chai at Aslam Bhais tapri, people never ceased to flock for that break.  Why, once, it so happened that he put salt instead of sugar and people still had the tea thinking, it was just another bad day! And of course, coupled with garam Samosas, gives another dimension to the break!

Gossip Sessions
What better moments to gossip than over a cup of Chai with good friends around.  Tea parties with pakodas and wafers have been in vogue for donkeys years.  Though now, there’s less time for the leisurely gossip sessions with girl friends, a cup of Chai always lasts for a few new tidbits.

A steaming cup of Chai is welcome anytime during winter..With chattering teeth and several layers of clothing, heading out in the cold to a tapri on the road for that kadak adrak wali Chai, well, the experience is matchless!  Thanks to my Gurgaon friends, I enjoyed that experience which sadly never worked out in the warm winter or Mumbai.

Exam time
I never could attend an exam without gulping a steaming scalding cup of Chai over last minute notes for fear of falling asleep.  Well.  Thanks to my disability to making edible tea my roommates barred me from making the tea, and I got it made free for me :D, otherwise, the nearby Shivsaagar tapri was my safest bet for anything that would keep me awake during the exam.

Between Lectures:
I remember rushing to the NCC canteen near college after every lecture to ward off that sleep induced by the mundane words of the lecturers

I guess, Chai is the only thing that works during illness..  When food fails, Chai is always the soothing balm to sore throats and chills.

Early Morning and with the Newspaper
From the Grumpy Mondays to the Finally Friday, the morning has to start with the hurried gulping of Tea to sail through the rest of the morning.  Saturdays and Sundays with the Tea and the newspaper at leisure is certainly a must.

When there is nothing to do

When it’s just time for the Tea!

Well I guess, I can ramble on and on..but I m sure, you ll need that tea to keep you awake at the end of it!  So here’s the recipe

The Chai lover that I am, it is unfortunate that my cup never is ever correct.  Infact, it usually becomes  a weird inedible slurry that looks like tea that needs to be dumped in the sink.  Well, the right quantity of tea leaves or the tea powder needs to be used, the water should be boiled for exactly the right time and in the right quantity, the sugar should be just right, the milk should be the right temperature and quantity and if you are fond of masala Chai or the ginger tea, that has to be just right as well!  Oh well, it isn’t that complicated I reckon..someday I will succeed

My mum tells me the procedure yet again and insists nothing could be simpler.   Maybe you would succeed..

Heat up one cup of water to boil, Throw in one flat spoon of the standard Red Label tea (well, I prefer this), and add in a spoon or two of sugar as required.  Beat a small piece of ginger and put it in the boil, and let it all merrily boil away for like 3 mins.  Heat milk to a boil in a separate vessel in the meanwhile and add it after the 3 mins are up.   Let the tea boil for a min and then close the lid, and let it sit for 5 mins till the flavor of the tea seeps in. Strain and serve..Voila….it sounds good 

Well, ofcourse, there are differences, in when the milk should be poured.  It is said that it is preferable to add milk first as the high temperature of freshly brewed tea can denature the proteins found in fresh milk, which result in an inferior tasting beverage.  Others debate that it is better to add the milk after brewing the tea, as most teas need to be brewed as close to boiling as possible. The addition of milk chills the beverage during the crucial brewing phase, if brewing in a cup rather than using the vessel ruining the delicate flavor of a good tea.

The height of tea making!:  Another interesting thing I got to know, was that the flavor of the tea can also be altered by pouring it from different heights, resulting in varying degrees of oxidization.  The art of high-altitude pouring is used principally by people in some parts of Africa and it is also a technique to cool the beverage destined to be consumed immediately.  Now I see why the Chai wallas transfer the Chai to vessels with style from heights!

That’s all about the Chai from me.  Go have a cup.  Cheers to the Chai!