Tea in India

May 11, 2011

No photos this time I’m afraid. My camera, which has suffered weeks of abuse at the beach, the bar and bazaar, had finally had enough. No matter…

Sri Lanka is only separated from India by a few kilometres of sea at the closest point, but they feel worlds apart. We arrived in Chennai airport almost a week ago and have been mixing exploring the Tamil Nadu region with a bit of voluntary work in the Christian Missionary hospital in Vellore. Compared to Sri Lanka it’s hot, dry, dusty, dirty and overpopulated. There’s a lot more poverty evident here, and many people live without basic sanitation, or even a roof over their heads.

As in our country, tea is one of the great social unifiers here. Everyone from the maids and rickshaw drivers to the wealthiest businessmen start their day with a cup of chai. At the hospital canteen where we have breakfast it’s served piping hot in two small metal cups, the contents of which you transfer backwards and forwards to cool it. The doctors, nurses, cooks and cleaners make this look very easy but to the uninitiated like ourselves the result is usually several burnt fingers and a big mess.

Last weekend we explored Pondicherry, an old French settlement to the South, and next weekend we’ve booken tickets to an IPL match – India’s new 20-20 cricket premier league – in Bangalore. Cricket is probably overtaking tea as a national obsession so it will be fascinating to experience it first hand.

Hopefully we’ll have mended/replaced our dying camera by then…

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