My earliest memories of Masala Chai are from making tea at home in London as a teenager. It was a ritual. Every week, friends of my parents would come by, make themselves comfortable at our kitchen table, and I would make the Chai. They insisted I do. Colorful stories and wise anecdotes were exchanged while I stood over the brown boiling liquid, bubbling over the stove.
The four adults discussed everything from their own childhood memories to present day aches and pains they were going through while they assimilated to life in a western country. My mother ever ready with a flamboyant and vivid story, would usually take center stage. Her hearty laugh and deep rooted passion laced the tales with nostalgia for days gone by.
The smell of cardamom and the cinnamon from the spice blend would waft into my nostrils, and the steam would bathe my senses with the delightful aromas from the masala. My mother’s home made Chai Masala would deliver its magic once again. All four of them would quieten down as they took their first sip. I would wait, almost knowingly, as they would let the warm first sip fill them with a deep satisfaction from the perfect balance of tea and spices. Ah! Perfect as always. After their customary sighs of satisfaction, they would move onto the next topic of conversation for the day.
Over the years, I began to understand how this seemingly simple cup of Masala Chai symbolizes so much more. For me, a cup of Masala Chai is my indulgence for the day. A place I can go to when the day feels too rushed. From the first taste of the complex, earthy spices, my Masala Chai rejuvenates me and fills me with a healthy zest that charges me for the rest of the day.
Many memories have been made over cups of tea. Friends have sat around the table, laughing, exchanging stories, and catching up with one another. Many bonds have been forged with special people in my life over a great cup of Masala Chai. The Masala Chai has come to be the thread that weaves its way through my life and through the lives of those around me. Every day, my Chai is a constant companion on this journey through life. Every day I am beckoned to come back and seek that familiar place, time and again.