Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Cup of Tea

 Normally I prefer my coffee black as tar and so thick you need to chew; but every now and again I take tea.

I find that tea drinkers are a particular breed and for them the right cup of tea can put a smile on their face faster than anything else.

Sugar? Cream? A twist of lemon?         -- Yes, please.

In Kenya, the most popular kind of tea (locally called chai) comes piping hot, creamy, and heaping in sugar.         --Delicious.

The other morning --having a bit of time to spare-- I decided to take tea on the street corner.

As I walked up to the make-shift cafe, no one acknowledged me for several minutes; there were omelettes to be cooked and several other customers to serve. The woman in charge --round faced with sleepy eyes-- greeted me with a smile and I sat down.       

-- Chai, please.

Although not her typical customer (I’m guessing), she poured the caramel colored brew in a battered tin cup asking if I needed extra sugar.

I wasn’t sure if it was sweet enough so I took a sip. Instantly, my fingers burned from the metal handle but I persisted.

Its mellow, velvety warmth coated my tongue and singed my lips.                     --Delightful!

Then for the next few minutes I smiled, took pictures, and cheerfully acknowledged the others also sitting at her cafe.

Only when the strangeness of my presence wore off, did the others settle into their daily routine and I could watch the morning’s happenings.

A couple facing me were deep in conversation but couldn’t help furtively glancing my direction every few minutes.

The grey beard in brown sitting to my right cheerfully chatted up the owner while devouring a thin, greasy omelette. His age gave him carte blanche to stare; and he did so with pleasure.

Easy conversation flowed as the two women who ran the cafe moved about. One peeled and diced potatoes while the other refilled thermoses and fried a pile of thin, greasy omelettes.

The energy and simplicity of it all reminded me of home.

By the time my chai was more than half finished, my taste buds were badly scorched but by spirits were high.

This is definitely my cup of tea!