Tea & A Delhi Winter
In the Northern Indian plains, winter is the change we seek from the harsh winds of summer—
the sultry breeze giving way to a frost-reminiscent lull in the air, the stark blue skies almost white from the sun’s glare changing to the brightest blue that only the sky knows how to paint, the trees—tired greens covered in dust giving way to the lush monsoon and then slowly, withering away, falling in colours of red, brown, orange, yellow—gradually announcing the onset of winter.
Winter brings us together—into huddled groups over steaming mugs of sweet, milky ‘chai’ accompanied usually by rusk. Each family adds its own special ingredient—ginger, cardamom, cloves or even bay leaf—all to keep the cold away.
Afternoon naps, in the soft wintry sun, on terraces decked with divans and jute mats, are almost a taste of paradise—after a thali of lunch generously heaped with warm, melting ghee.
Winter brings forth images of crackling fires in the open, tussles over sharing quilts, brightly coloured sweaters and endless, truly endless cups of chai that fill the kitchen with their aroma and our hearts with fond love. And chai brings its family with it—in the form of rusk, jaggery and woolly scarves. Hands cupped around a glass, a cup, an earthen ‘kulhad’ or an elaborately made tea cup—all relishing the warmth in the fog of December.
Winter and tea create family conversations, quietly creeping in like the dense mists in the city. No fresh mango shakes of summer can compete with the almost nostalgic murmur of winter—assuming nearly a form of artistry.
Text by Sugandha Das. Photos by Shivani Dogra.