Monday, March 3, 2014

Portable Starbucks

I don't know when high tea is. I am usually working, and would miss it anyway. But around 4:00 I can walk out into the parking lot outside my office building and a man with a scooter is serving tea and sugar cookies. The tea is in plastic thermoses and the hot water is in a metal urn strapped to the back of the scooter with several bungie cords.

He asks if I would like tea or coffee, and I say tea. I am in India. He pours a small amount of tea into a paper cup and adds a small amount of hot water from the metal urn, then he mixes the two by pouring them back and forth from the paper cup to a metal cup. He holds the cup high over his head and pours it straight into the other cup held at his waist, and the tea goes back and forth like that several times before he gives it to me.

"How much?" I ask, almost ashamed for not knowing.

"6 rupees." One dollar. And I drink my tea with the other local staff.

On my drive home from work, I see crowds of Indian gathered around similar tea vendors, metal urns bungee-corded to the back of scooters, portable Starbucks.

In the morning, as Sam and I wait for the school bus, a man rides by on a bicycle, yelling, "YEEEEE-AAAAAAH!!!!" every minute or two. He rides through the neighborhood yelling, an urn of tea strapped to the back of the bicycle. When people hear them man's call, they come to the street for their morning tea.

We know when the school bus is close to coming, because it is right after the tea man rides through our neighborhood. I ask Sam if he wants tea. He says no, shlyly. This morning the tea man told Sam hello quietly then yelled, "YEEEEE-AAAAAAH!!!!" We could hear him as his cried carried away for several blocks. I think Sam may take me up on my offer one of these mornings. 

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