I travelled to India this winter. Kolkata in the West of Bengal is considered a prominent tea hub as it pioneers as the tea auction ground for all the tea produced in India. Here is my story and my version of Teattitude that differentiates Kolkata from the rest of India.
The very first day on the streets of Gaariahat the sub urban shopping district of Kolkata was as mesmerizing as it was chaotic. The crowded roads looked settled in dust somewhere in between the yellow and black taxis that guarded the city, as the city lights turned dim. The noise of the many footsteps mingled generously with the muted sounds of the sellers bickering and pointing to check out their discounts of the day. Already overwhelmed with the rewarding scenario; I felt the gentle pat on my shoulder by an elderly woman carrying an aluminum tray of sorts hung by her neck, with miniature paper glasses and a boiling hot kettle full of chai. She did not have to say a word to lure me into having a cup of tea. Her eyes did the talking, and I found myself fully extended for a hot cup of tea. And that was the beginning of my tea welcome in Kolkata!
I started to pay close attention to the vendors on the road post my first cup. It was slightly surprising and very exciting to see that after every 20-30 street shops, I would always find a chai waala. Some carrying the portable neck hung tea caddy or some holding just the aluminum kettle on their hand and a bucket full of disposable earthen or paper cups. While in some corners I found a stand up cart with three or four kettles and a hot stove to make fresh tea served in disposable earthen cups. Well no matter how the arrangements were made, one will always find a person serving tea. I found this immensely interesting and a hard core humble experience of sorts.
In its most astounding manner and yet so silently the streets of Kolkata embodied the spirit of Darjeeling and Assam. With nothing sophisticated about the chai, these street tea vendors managed to stir a tiffany in my mind. A kind of curiosity that kept me looking for more.
Until now I often wondered why of all the places in India, Kolkata was the tea auction ground. One evening stroll on the streets and I completely understand the why. Tea is a culture in India and a heartbeat in Kolkata.
This is the true tea essence that can only belong to Kolkata!
Post By: Astha