Chai Tea Is Not Just About Sipping Something Delicious

Chai Tea Is Not Just About Sipping Something Delicious

How can you explain the deep significance of something so seemingly simple?

For my very last women's studies class of the semester, we had what my professor calls a "Feast of Resistance," where each person brings in a food or drink that is important to their family or to them and represents a struggle or victory over something in some way. The idea is predicated from the quote "Food is the only language we have in common." (With this I'd disagree, because what about music? I won't get into it now because that would be a whole other article.)

But food is something that people can bond over, across cultures. Food is extremely important. Most of the time, for immigrants who have left their home lands behind, left their families behind, who have to find ways to be themselves in a place that is nothing like them at all, food is the one thing they can control.

Food is often the one thing they have that keeps them connected to that past.

This is great and all, and so my two Indian friends and I brought cake rusk, a sweet Indian snack eaten with chai, but when I stood up there and found myself having to explain the significance of this food (which was more about the significance of chai) I found myself at a loss for words.

How do I begin to explain what chai is? What chai means to me and to my family and to my identity as an Indian? Sure, all my desi readers right now are probably like "Okay, its just chai, chill out dude," and my non-desi readers are like, "Chai? I know what that is, that's good stuff, why can't you explain it? It's just tea."

Except it's not just tea. It's not that simple. Chai holds an incredible amount of significance to my life. Chai, for me, is Saturday mornings with my mom, dad, and brother, right before breakfast. Chai is that warm, sweet, milky concoction running down my throat as we call my grandparents in India over FaceTime.

Chai is the catalyst that opens up a conversation between me and distant relatives coming to visit. Chai with guests is a ritual, one I've come to love because of the connections it creates. Chai is that warm mug of relief when my mom comes home from work on Wednesday evenings. Chai is the first Indian food I learned to make. Chai is the same everywhere, yet so, so different.

There's a science behind the perfect ratios of milk to water to tea leaves to sugar. And then when you're advanced enough, you add ginger, ground black pepper, dried basil, cardamom. A perfect blend, and everyone does it differently. Chai at Nani's house is different from chai at Taiji's house is different from chai at my house is different from the chai my brother makes.

But chai anywhere is a connection. A connection to people, a connection to India, to my parents, grandparents. Chai is so much more than a drink I pick up at Starbucks. Chai is the experience, history, and culture that I call my own.

That's the thing about culture. It's not so much the thing itself, as the meaning surrounding it. No, chai itself isn't that special. Anyone can make chai. Anyone can steep loose tea leaves in water and add milk and make chai. But it's the years of meaning behind chai, the memories, the connections I've formed through chai.

It's the same for any aspect of my Indian culture, whether that's eating dal chawal (lentil soup and rice) with my bare hands, feeling my food before I eat it, or getting dressed up in a lengha, or putting on mehendhi (henna). It's the significance behind each of these artifacts and what they mean to each person and each family.

It's like this in any culture. For me, Christmas is not nearly as special or meaningful as it is for my Christian friends, whose families have celebrated those traditions for so long. They have real memories attached to their Christmas traditions, just as I do with my Indian traditions.

Something about traditions just root us so strongly to our families and culture. These little indulgences into my culture with these traditions, I can't explain in words what they mean to me. I can't explain their significance adequately. But they are so important. It connects me to my grandparents, to my mother and father. It recenters me, grounds me, reminds me who I am and where I come from.

How do you begin to explain something so simple yet so significant?

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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Almost 100 Percent Of What Servers Say Earning Your 20 Percent Tip Is BS

Here it is.... the truth.

So, if you don’t know, I am a waitress.

I deal with, so many different types of people and I have learned how to handle each kind of person.

I have had so many people that make my day a little brighter and then there are always those people that can easily bring me down.

No matter what, I always keep a smile on my face and give the customers the best service possible.

But I am ready to unleash all the thoughts I have built up for some of these customers.

So here it is, what servers want to actually say to you.

When I first walk up to the table and introduce myself:

What I say: Hello! My name is Maddie I am going to be taking care of you, can I start you off with anything else to drink other than water? Any appetizers?

What I want to say: Hi my dudes, let’s get this over with, c’mon what do you want to drink. Get a bottle of wine or something expensive.

When a customer asks me what exactly is on tap, or want to know every single kind of wine we have and what they all taste like:

What I say: *grabs drink list OFF THE TABLE IN FRONT OF THEM* here you are, I have a hard time remembering some of the drafts because we have newly featured ones all the time. Also, I can get you a wine recommendation if you would like.

What I want to say: Uh hello, the list is right in FREAKING FRONT OF YOU!!!!!!! Look at the list, and then ask me questions! K BYE.

When I come back with drinks and they ask me if I am going to bring out rolls:

What I say: Yeah, I can bring out some rolls! Would you like any appetizers or anything? Were we ready to order dinner?

What I want to say: *laughing* uhhhh you have been sitting here for a good three minutes please wait until I set your vodka soda down before asking about some crusty bread Tina. Thanks bye.

When a customer asks me what sides we have:

What I say: All of our sides are at the bottom of the menu, and we have mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, fries, mac and cheese, onion rings, etc.


When I bring out the rare steak the customer ordered and they complain:

What I say: I can take it back to the kitchen and we will get it fixed right away!

What I want to say: ARE YOU JOKING. If you didn’t want it mooing and running around your plate then you shouldn’t have ordered it rare!!!!!!! CMON!!!

When I bring out the bills and a customer jokes around and says "I thought you were paying!?":

What I say: *laughs and walks away*

What I want to say: HAHAHA YOU THOUGHT. ME? PAY? After making $3 an hour plus your sh*tty tip. Yeah right.

When a customer asks me if the tip is included:

What I say: No, it is not, you have to include that when you sign the slip! Thank you!

What I want to say: …… *starts screaming*

When I go the table for the last time and say goodbye:

What I say: Thank you so much for coming in, have a great night! Come see us again!

What I want to say: Alright get to moving, I want to go home. I hope you tipped me good, seeeeee yaaaa. Peace out my dudes.

So there it all is. I laid it all out there.

Those are just a few things that I want to say to servers but instead I keep a smile on my face and stay kind and nice. It takes A LOT of work to maintain a nice personality and put up with the handful of people that come through the restaurant I work at.

So there you all go, how I truly feel and what I want to say to you.

P.S. - I am really sorry if I have ever served you before. Lol. Don't take it personally. :)

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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If You Want The Most Relaxing Weekend Getaway From NYC, Go To Tulum, Mexico

Escape the freezing temperatures and head to the sunny beaches.

With below freezing temperatures upon us in NYC, the white sand beaches and warm temperatures of Tulum, Mexico sound ever appealing. Tulum is located just a short two-hour drive south of the busy city of Cancun, Mexico. The numerous daily direct flights out of NYC make this trip truly seamless.

This small rustic town and laid-back vibe is the ultimate weekend getaway from the fast-paced lifestyle you’re surrounded by in New York City. Get out of the tundra and head over to your beach life get away. Grab some friends and your bathing suits and head over to Tulum for the most relaxing weekend of your life.

Tulum is special because you can interact with all the locals and experience their easy-going way of life. You truly get to immerse yourself in the Mexican culture and you get a sense of their spirituality.

This small, rustic town promotes a healthy, positive lifestyle in the sense that everything is fresh and requires physical activity.

The narrow streets, lacking room for cars, push the tourists to live like the locals and either ride bikes or walk everywhere. You have the opportunity to take long walks on the white sand beaches and stop at one of the many beachfront hotels for a quick lunch.

Most boutique hotels you stumble into offer moonlight yoga on the beach with the ability to channel all of your energy into the sound of the relaxing waves. Be sure to take advantage of the beachside massages offered by the hotels. After spending an entire day laying out its time to head over to a trendy dinner where the chefs are sure to take advantage of the local, fresh ingredients.

Must-see hotels:

  1. BeTulum
  2. Nomad
  3. Sanara
  4. Casa Malca

Must-see restaurants:

  1. Hartwood
  2. Raw Love
  3. The Real Coconut @Sanara hotel
  4. Posada Margarita

Must-see bars:

  1. Gitano
  2. Casa Jaguar
  3. Taqueria La Eufemia
  4. La Zebra

Safe travels!

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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