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High Tea

My Scholarship entry - Understanding a Culture through Food

WORLDWIDE | Tuesday, 24 April 2012 | Views [656] | Comments [2] | Scholarship Entry

The syrup-sweet chai exhales loving tendrils over our cheeks and lips in the crisp mountain air. We sit cross-legged in the dusty courtyard clasping chipped, fist-sized mugs and take our first sips in unison. My eyes meet the sun-lined face of the middle-aged woman sitting across from me and her dark pupils glint like the silver carp darting below the surface of one of the many nearby streams.
The same majestic peace worn by the distant snowcapped peaks has come to rest heavily on the straw-thatched roofs of the high wooden houses and the colourful woolen shawls of the villagers. Ghosal is nestled into a crook of the Indian Himalayas, a short hike from the more touristic hub of Manali.
Arriving the day following Diwali, I was met by a parade of tambourines, drums and twisting bovine horns and swept into the crowd of children gleefully following behind. We weaved through narrow cobbled streets until we arrived at a small temple, merrily garlanded with fluttering silver streamers. Once the entire village had gathered, a reverberating prayer-song took its place, emanating from chests young and old while an old woman passed out prasad to honour the deities. She hobbled over to where I stood at the edge of the crowd and pressed an orange handful of sweet Gulab Jamun into my hands with a welcoming smile.
Later, she and I sit sipping steamy chai. This could not be farther from the sticky chaos of cities further south; the daily cacophony of brakes, bargainers, horns and animals, the wafting buffets of meat and spice, a curry of paan-spitting rickshaw drivers and outstretched hands begging and selling. Yet India is unanimously blessed with warmth and hospitality.
She croaked a phrase in Hindi and looked at me expectantly. “Acha,” I say, “Good.” She howls with laughter and claps me on the back. "Acha!" she agrees, clapping her hands under her chin. As the light dwindles, so too does the chai in our cups. The soul of India can be tasted in a shared cup of chai.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012



This is lovely! Really felt like I was there.

  farah Apr 25, 2012 9:00 PM


This is brilliant. Well done.

  Becfrolics Apr 26, 2012 9:45 AM

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