Caffeine. It’s the college student’s elixir of life. It’s what gets us up in the morning and into a state ready for class after a long night. It’s what pulls us through assignments and exams, ensuring we submit two thousand word papers on time, study at least three out of five topics for an exam. It is the reason many of us survive college. A thimble sized container of chai or coffee, which costs less than ten rupees but ensures that one gets through hours of lectures.
A colonial legacy, tea, has long transcended the china pots and jugs it entered our lives in. We took it in, paying no heed to the arguments that one poured the milk into the brew and threw it into large steaming saucepans, leaves, milk, water, sugar and a maybe a handful of spices, boiled over a roaring fire, thus giving birth to chai, a beverage savoured by Indians across class, caste and region, be it the hot mug handed to you by your mother, first thing in the morning or the dirty little glass one grabs between lectures from the tapri round the corner.
Chai, accompanied by a couple of biscuits also makes for a quick breakfast, It’s cheap, a huge pro, especially for a large part of our population who can’t afford much else. For college students, who are slightly more privileged however, it’s a meal that’s budget-friendly as well as fast and will sustain us until the next break. Conversations at the tapri over cups of chai are memories almost synonymous with the Indian College experience. It’s the same at Symbiosis Viman Nagar.
Yugishtha Shrivastava puts it best, “Chai for me, isn’t just a beverage. It’s a part of me, of who I am. The first thing I tell people is ‘Hi, I’m Yugishtha, I drink cups and cups of chai and write poetry’. On rough days, I depend on a cup of tea to cheer me up. You’d be surprise at how effective it can be. In fact, I’ve reached a stage where people use it to bribe me. Like ‘Pick up my laundry and I’ll make you a nice cup of adrak ki chai (ginger tea)’”.
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