The constant demand for chai made me cringe. Was there a need for copious amounts of it all the time ? There’s a specific way of making it too: boiled water, three pinches of tea leaves, and two pinches crushed green cardamom. The chore was repeated multiple times a day, every day, and became a monotonous burden.
It was the indication of a separation of generations and their understanding of one another to me. Why couldn’t they all just come get the chai themselves? Why did I have to do it? Its like I’m invisible when I serve it too. Can I get a “thank you”?
While getting clear, glass cups ready to be filled on a serving tray, I would question the culture’s lack of ability to evolve, and be accepting of new ideas. It was so different from the progressive, open-minded ideas that they would talk about all the time. Though I could switch from languages in the middle of a sentence with ease, I could grasp why things are why the way they are.
One night during a typical gathering in my home, I decided to pour myself a cup of chai after serving others first, sit in the living room, and engage in conversation with the elders more than just answering, “How’s school? What grade are you in? What are you going to study at college?”
I listened to the incredible stories of their past and the wisdom behind the traditions suddenly became clear to me. The atmosphere became warmer, and a bridge of understanding was created. Tradition is tradition for a reason.
Chai represents a home’s warmth and family’s hospitality.
Chai is bae now.