Chai Time - Connecting People!!

by Vidhu Nair
(Mumbai, India)

'It's Chai Time' ... 'Tea Time'

Wooh!! A common phrase that's heard anytime, anywhere, across people of different ages, troops, cultures.. Chai is one of the drinks that binds people together and encourage them to share their thoughts, express their feelings, to gossip and so on... Nevertheless to mention, at times the 'Chai factor' initiates connection between two unknown people as well.

I was travelling from Mumbai to Bangalore, had opted to go via local train till Vidyavihar and get an auto to airport. Inevitably though, the day being special for sisters & brothers celebrating Raksha Bhandan, local train ladies compartment was jam packed. One should travel once in their lifetime in Mumbai local train to experience it... Never ever would they forget!! :) Yeah, so I got up at Vikhroli to ensure that I get down at Vidyavihar, God forbid the crowd, I was finally able to get down at Kurla, thankfully the next station after Vidyavihar (my original destination..). As it doesn't make much difference to me, I got into an auto and started for airport. Most of the crowd had missed out on their original destination and had to get down after two or three stations.

The train crowd had already drained off my energy and I was in desperate need for some tea. Contemplating on whether to stop in between or go to airport directly, finally I decided to ask the auto guy to stop wherever he finds a chai stall.

We reached near Mumbai University, Kalina and I spotted some shops where I was likely to find tea. I asked the auto guy to stop and got down. I checked with the auto guy, if he would like to have tea, which he denied since he was having pan/ghutka. I went and got the most longed chai and took the first sip, which fortunately was a Masala Chai.. Aah!!.. What a great relief it was!! I happily took the tea and was returning towards the auto, when the auto guy smiled at me. His smile made me realize that I looked to him, like a kid who was overjoyed to get his favorite gift.

I got in the auto and it was then that the auto guy strikes a conversation asking if I am from UP, where apparently people just love to have tea anytime, anywhere. He was amused by the fact that someone on the way to airport wanted to have tea from a roadside tea stall.

Conversation went on for quite some time and he mentioned about his hometown, his love marriage etc... The entire episode left me to ponder, on how two unknown people started talking with tea being the reference :), especially since I am an introvert and doesn't indulge in.

The very episode reminded me of an instance few years back, when fresher's drive was going on in our team. One guy was being interviewed and I had entered the room for a quick note to be discussed with the interviewer. Since I didn't want to disrupt the flow for the question being answered, I started looking at the resume and the projects the guy had worked on. Projects being pretty impressive, I couldn't stop myself asking few questions to the candidate. During the flow of questions, I asked a question related to pressure handling during his college days and studies. He just smiled and said, "Whenever I get tensed or have lot of work going on at the same time, I take a break and have tea, be it the nearby college stall or by mom at home". The answer made me smile and i couldn't stop telling his interviewer to select the candidate, not only due to his academics but the positive attitude that came out, with the 'Chai factor'. The decision was absolutely perfect and over the period, the candidate has demonstrated his positive attitude throughout his work and also excelled in his work.

Each of us has a group or team with whom we prefer to tag along for lunch, tea etc while in school, colleges, offices. Sometimes even if one person in a group wants to have tea or food, they wait for others to join in and be together. It's the bonding, common preferences, shared by each of individuals in the group that connect them.

All of us has many such events in our life, in fact there has been many chai events in my life as well. But the auto event, let me to consider the various aspects on how human relations are affected and dealt with. Sometimes having chai with a friend is a means to spend some quality time with that person and sharing one's life experiences or problems.

In life many a time we keep struggling with big problems, that our mind is clogged with nothing else apart from those thoughts. Good or bad, at times, we never are able to come out of it!!

Just wonder how easy it would be to keep our problems aside and walk over to an old friend or a known person asking him/her - 'Come! Let's go for a cup of tea'. Conversations over tea may even have some solutions to our problems or at times provide the power to deal with those. It happens that the other person might be in a bigger problem than yours and dealing with it in a positive manner. The very positivity itself can help you deal with your baggage!

I had read somewhere, that one should spend time with the elderly people above 60, as they are full of experiences and have tales to tell which can inspire our lives or help us in deciding which way to go and learn from their mistakes.

Small kids, as they are in their learning phase and full of innocence and experimentation. They are in their own world trying out things which many a times is a learning for elders
The next time, when you see some negativity or issue or think it's been long time since you haven't been in touch with someone, go on and tell 'It's Chai Time' - Time to change your perspective, thoughts and let connect back!!

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