Journey called life

Handi Tea of Bakhtiyarpur

Bihar is famous for many things but it obviously doesn’t include tea in any form.River plains of Ganga & it’s tributaries as well as weather system are unsuitable for tea plantation. Therefore, we get to drink cheap -quality dust tea brought mostly from large tea estates of North-East. Some connoiseurs may prefer export -quality Darjelling Tea but cheap tea brands of Tata Tea or Brooke Bond are most popular brands in North India . I personally prefer Wagh -Bakri Tea(Tiger- Goat Tea), not because of the aroma or flavour but for the sole reason that this brand name sounds exotic or should I say out of this world.

Imagine that Tiger & Goat cohabiting in Tea Plantation of Assam !

However, it is a great idea and it gives the impetus to the brand because may be manufacturers of this brand are saints and they believe in equal co-existence of all living beings on the earth.

Nevertheless,tea is a crucial morning drink meant specifically for starting the day by stimulating your senses. It helps you in morning chitchat with family members and neighbours. Some people get addicted to this morning routine and realize that their morning rituals depends upon potency of this milky brown-coloured brew. In Bihar, people also add a dash of some form of tobacco after gulping down few cups of tea to speed up the process in lavatory.

And when it comes to tea, one cup is never enough.

Bachelor student living in various lodges of Patna city prefer few cuppas of nukkad chai (strong-flavoured tea made on street-side shops) in morning which sets the tone for the study pattern of the day. Students all over India prefer to bond over tea in Canteens throughout the day or mostly night time. I even heard a rumour that some IAS -aspirants of Jiyasarai (a small village ensconced in midst of boundary wall of IIT-Delhi) swear by the magical effects of tea brewed in congested lanes of this suburb which will make them crack civil services exam conducted by UPSC. Therefore, many of them keep drinking this strong tea at unearthly hours in the hope of being a bureaucrat and some become one by the the sheer logic of probability. So, the myth of tea in student’s life persists.

Tea-maker boy with magical touch

But, coming back to the Handi Tea. I must confess that I have never heard the term before yesterday though I count myself among the nosy connoiseur of tea having lived and tasted tea from around the country. I also believe in the institution of bed tea. Whoever discovered this great tradition was an innovator of highest order as drinking tea while sitting under the quilt lazily in winter season is one of the greatest pleasures of life. If you have to move your legs even before gulping hot cup of tea , then the fun of well-deserved night sleep goes out of the window.

I discovered this well – known local variety of tea-making by sheer luck. I was travelling on the newly black-topped four-lane highway connecting Anisabad(Patna) to Bakhtiyapur. This nearly 50 Kms. part of NH-30 is one of the finest examples of development in roadways sector of Bihar. However, the fun of driving on this shiny road flies away when you think about the journey ahead on Bakhtiyarpur – Barh stretch of NH -31 which faces unending hours of traffic snarls and poor quality of road designing. So, you come back to realize that why some parts of India are shining and some live in dark ages. This section remains the same since last 30 years or more while traffic on NH -31 has seen exponential growth as it is one of the most vital links connecting Rest of India to North -Eastern states.

So, I wished to have a break before embarking on the driving on this horrendous stretch of NH -31.

03-04 large tea/snacks shops are situated near the junction of NH -30 & 31 and tourist hotspot of Rajgir/Nalanda are not far away from this place. So, this pit stop of few rustic-looking tea shops sees large number of footfalls of tourists also. All shops look identical and flashes large flex-signboards advertising the Handi tea. I ordered 01 cup and it was delivered to me in Kulhad(handle-less clay tea cup) within seconds. Delivery was so quick that I verbally abused swanky fast food chains or Coffee Shops for their inordinate delay in delivery of items. Sometimes, I wonder that Coffee shop people ask for permissions from Coffee Plantation owners in various parts of India or may be from far corners of South America for delivering a hot Latte/Cappuccino to me.

Now, coming to the taste. My goodness !!! What is this ?

It was the strongest ever tea made in deeply-baked high calorific-milk poured into the Handi(Clay pot) or terracotta- like pot straight from the udders of a a big and bulky jet-black coloured buffalo ! I may have even looked for her but good sense prevailed !

The aroma of deeply-baked tea brewed with generous amount of milk & sugar was overpowering the senses. I must say that this tea is not meant for weak people. You may get heart attack if you prefer the tea in a delicate English manner. The sensuous and erotic mix of clay with brown milky tea can even arouse the senses of a gentleman. I immediately ordered few more cups and gulped 04 cups in succession as Kulhads are normally very stingy in matters of quantity as they contain lesser amount of liquid than their regular counterpart bone china tea cups. Don’t ask me about origins of bone china but these are normally white porcelain cups definitely containing some amount of animal bones. May be now, craftsmanship has improved and we can be using vegetarian cups.

Thereafter, I did a small research and talked to tea boys and owners and they sweared on the record that this is the best tea brewed in Bihar. I agree with their opinion as the taste of pudding lies in eating the cake and I did so. I discovered that they slowly cook the tea on coal-ovens over an extended period of time and their recipe is simple but unique to them.

Fragrance of Handi Tea

When , I was taking photographs, one chirpy young lad suggested to me to put the tea-making boy on the internet and made him famous. I didn’t promised him anything but loved their care-free attitude. A tea-maker boy is more happy than many of us reading this blog. I became happy for him and wished him well. But, now in hindsight, I regret that I forgot to ask their names. May be in my next trip, I will sit with them for longer duration and ask for names.

But, I must recommend that if you wish to be in the vicinity of that location, go and drink the elixir called Handi Tea in their shop. It works like poison on your senses but what is life without a small dose of poison. Hopefully, you will enjoy it.

That’s it for today.

So, if you have anything to say , write it down and let others see what you think of Bakhtiyapur School of Tea.

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Independence Day through the lens of Social Media

Today, India is celebrating  72nd Independence Day by hoisting our tri-coloured national flag in all corners of the country. Hoisting and unfurling Tiranga is a happy sight to behold.

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How does Indians celebrate it

There are normally 02 ways of celebrating it.

First one is official hoisting ceremony which is held on the pattern of Red Fort ceremony. At the Red Fort, the Prime Minister of the day hoists and unfurls Tiranga which is given weaponised salute by joint command of 03 Defence Forces of India & Police of our capital city. It is followed by speech of the PM and other related ceremonies.

This ceremony at 0730 hrs. in early morning of 15th August is attended by high and mighty of our country and sets the tone for similar ceremonies in all capital cities of India. This ceremony travels to the Panchayat and village level officials even in the remotest part of the country. It includes all offices of Central or State government and all educational institutes and every other government and private organizations in the country. Defence and Police forces follow this day as per protocol in their own campuses based upon availability of resources.

Over a period of time, cultural programmes depicting nationalist themes and prize ceremonies highlighting the contribution of individual in nation-making or high achievers of organizational goals have become an established norm.

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Sweets have a special place in these ceremonies, especially for kids and persons,young at heart. Hot jalebis and colourful ladoos are part and parcel of such ceremonies.

The 2nd way of celebrating the day begins at home. Citizens of our country, having the resources, hoist and unfurl flags at lawns or courtyards of their home. All family members get together and do it in a private ceremony. Mostly, it is done by eminent citizens. In the same way, youths and persons,young at heart, pool their resources in the community and celebrate Independence Day at a public  or private place. Such ceremonies also includes senior citizens and respectable persons of the community.

3rd way of celebrating Independence Day

It is actually through a lens. But, this lens was not available to our forefathers. Actually, our great men/women belonging to an earlier era were not privileged to have it.

It is through the lens of social media-savvy common citizens many of whom have no idea about the solemness of the occasion. This independence day is celebrated on virtual screens. There are 02 ways of celebrating it on social media. You get a good photographer or give your camera phone to a friend and capture the flag and yourself in the same frame and post it on Facebook , Twitter or any other website with a catchy slogan. I agree with this spirit. It is indeed a noble gesture. DSC06581

However, there is another way of doing it. I have some strong reservations about it. Some kids or persons, young at heart, try to stretch their arms and twist their faces to impossible angles to take a selfie with flag.

Now, tell me, is there a normal way to take selfie with Tiranga flying on a high flagpost ? But, seeing is believing and I agree with spirit of boys.

Continuing on the social media celebration of Independence day, I must acknowledge the contribution of Whatsapp freedom fighters. They keep forwarding colourful I-Day messages to each and everyone in their contacts list. I agree, this phenomenon is not exclusive to I-day and people do the same thing on every festive occasion, but does it make any sense ?

If you wish to greet happy Independence Day to anyone then go to their home as I-Day is a declared holiday in all parts of India. Talk to them in patriotic tones and on some national issues. Eat sweets at their home and spread the joy of Independence all around.

Same things, I wish for our news anchors or should I say neo- freedom fighters. Do not just wear ethnic Indian wear on I-Day only. Talk about some sensible topics in a civilized way. Let everyone peeping from your screen talk freely. You have called guests (by inviting them) to your show, let them enjoy some freedom on this Independence Day.

Freedom means the ability to have individual choices. All souls must be given freedom to let them be in their pristine state. Freedom means no boundaries, no conditions, no if’s and but’s. But, if wishes were horses……

We need to value our freedom more. I shall quote my brother today that social media has made us unsocial. Is it so ? We need to think deeply. In the end, everything boils down to common sense. But then I remember the prophetic words of a thinker of bygone era.

I wish to quote Voltaire today –

   “Common sense is not so common”

That’s it for today. Cherish your freedom till it last as the world is bound to come to an end some day in distant future. This journey of earth will end some day. No one knows, when ?

If you like it. Share your views on this page. If it provokes you to say something, do not hold back. Remember, you have the freedom to say it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundays are good if you wish So

What to do on a Sunday ? It’s a million-dollar question if you are a working middle-class professional doing a salaried job in India.

Though, the question arises for everyone but it becomes a puzzle only for people working in a fixed time-frame on weekdays. Weekdays in India varies from 05 to 07 days based upon job-profile of the individual. In the same way, working hours varies for everyone in our country. Though we are not as lucky as employees in France to have an average  30 hours per week work hours but most people in organized sector works between 40 hours to  84 hours on an average. Though, this data is not constant and people keep moving up or down the ladder but our situation is not as bad as people allegedly working in North Korean labour camps who may work for 112 hours per week on an average.

But, data by nature is dynamic and it keeps changing. It is rumoured that Netherlands may have reached an ideal average working hours of 21 hours per week. Unbelievable ? Why are Indians trying to get Green Cards for US, Europe is a far better destination considering lesser number of working hours while enjoying a fat salary. It is a proven fact that the more your country moves up in the development index, your working hour gets reduced.

Same formula is also partially true for top hierarchy in an organization. People working at lower rungs in an organization always have an intrinsic feeling that top man is good for nothing and his favourite pastime is to make sure that subordinates live in hell. But, like in a honeybee colony, functions of Queen bee, Drone bees and Workers bees are clearly identified so that Colony survives. So, all office-goers like worker bees have to slog for long weekdays to collect honey from all sources so that they survive in rat race of life.

So, now you realize the importance of Sundays. It is not that Fridays and Saturdays are not important but Sunday is like top of the cliff where you enjoy the wind on your face but need to climb down next day to slog again.

Coming back to the issue  of doing something on Sunday. Actually, a large percentage of people prefer to do nothing. Normal office-going men prefer sleeping on Sundays. However, kids and wives feel that Sundays have been gifted by god to make merry. They try to squeeze the juice out of husband/father and indulge in shopping in nearby markets/malls or go out to watch movies and eat out in a famous restaurant. DSC01703

Some health-conscious people walk or run long distances or cycle on country-side roads. Some people visits friends/families and have jolly time at the expense of host whose Sunday gets twisted due to uninvited guests. But, this normally happens in small towns not in big metros where neighbours don’t even recognise each other.

If you are bachelor then there are perks like sleeping for longer hours and eating to heart’s content, watching TV, using Internet and then sleeping again. Though, a big drawback nowadays is social media applications in your smart phone. Facebook, Instagram,Twitter, Whatsapp , video-streaming websites,e-commerce websites, fitness/health websites are a big nuisance for enjoying a peaceful Sunday.

The smart phone keeps invading into your personal space and makes you a dumb spectator of other’s lives. Yes, I don’t understand that why are these phones called smart when they make you dumb and erodes thinking capacity of your brain. It is a black hole which keeps your brain immersed in things which aren’t necessary in your life. All screens, be it TV, desktop/laptop,Tablet, phone or anything else is bad for your Sunday.  It makes you a slave as you can not keep away from it for a long time. There was a time not long ago when people took Tablets when they became ill. Same is happening again as screens are making our lives miserable. There will come a time in future when we have to take Tablets to get rid of screen from our brains.

Some people carry their screens to even toilets and it is the most obnoxious thing I can imagine. They feel that their bowels won’t get empty at designated place if their eyes are not watching or reading something on screen.

I even know a girl who  posted her status on Facebook as – “Dropped my phone in commode and so feeling sad ” and to top it some well-wishers asked – ” how did you retrieved it ? washed with soap or wiped with clothes ? ”

What have we come to as a society ? Where will we go from here ? To shit-hole , I guess.

So, it is better if we keep away from dumb phones on Sunday. I won’t called it smart …how can it be smart ? Either you are smart or your phone is ? Choice is yours.

So, I will tell you what to do on a Sunday. Go to nature along with your friends/loved ones. You may have hundreds of friend on Facebook but they all are like thin air. They vanish as soon as you take your gaze away from screen. Cultivate friends and family by spending Sunday with them. Do anything which pleases you. Clean the mess in house, do gardening , plant a tree in park, run/walk, live life…..see the sun and moon, see stars….meet your neighbours and their kids. Take interest in life of someone in real world.DSC02346

Do not post a smiling face on your timeline.  Walk your dog if you have one or feed street dogs if you don’t have your own. That street dog won’t forget your meal and will profusely thank you by wagging his tail vigorously.Be human, behave like human.

Yesterday, I read about a couple whose ( 01-year old) son’s first word were some words on the pattern of ” Okay-Google” . Because, parents were addicted to Google Assistant so the kid followed their large footsteps. I wish that your kid must speak Mumma or PAAPAA as his first word. This is true joy. Throw away AI-assisted apps from your bedroom and open windows and let the monsoon rain drops touch you. This is bliss.

That’s it for today. Enjoy Sunday.

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