During my 2006-11 visits to the Republic Of Mali – a French colonized West African country, I learned about Malian Chai culture and its importance over the centuries.
In Mali villages all civil servants are generally found missing during tea time. Offices are empty. There’s no equipment, no computers, nothing – not even a chair except a 24×7 kettle outside the office waiting for the chai walla to pour tea in a single glass. The single glass of tea gets shared by all Malians who believe it enhances unity and brotherhood.
When it is impossible to work – you can only do a couple of things. First is a cup of African-Malian chai and second is a pirated old Hindi movie dubbed in French of Mithun Charavati (know as `Jimmy`). This is the global importance and the global reach of Chai.
Take A `Sip` from history of Chai : Almost five thousand years ago, when people in China started sipping the beverage made from dried leaves, different regions had different names for it. Portuguese traders, claim to be the first to bring the herbal drink to Europe in the late sixteenth century, followed new names : cha, shai, choy. Same story with overland routes to Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, India and Russia resulting in the use of “chai” in many languages. Dutch traders, who had a control on the tea trade in Western Europe—including Spain, France, Germany and Italy—got most of their name derivatives from its Chinese name: té, tèh, tey. Europe as evident exported the word “te” to their colonial regions.
Back to NaMo
Kudos to The Hindu recent article titled : Rhetoric, Not Foreign Policy which appeared on 19th March-2014. This article went in depth with the favorite `tea comment` of Modi during his visit to Russia where he asked in English for tea several times but he got nothing. When Modi asked for `chai` only then he got some tea.
Instead of getting trapped in the patriotic riddle that “My Hindustani Chai” is better than your tea let us talk real issues.
A global city needs to protect against price rise and in order to function it needs – jobs, wages, electricity, water, gas, banks, marketplaces, and basic government services such as the town hall and a judiciary. The NaMo Tea Stall invites you for a cup of chai but refuses to discuss or clear the stand of the prospective BJP PM Modi on important issues such as the Current A/C deficit and the Fiscal Deficit ? Instead in each Tea Stall you hear the religious chants of Har ! Har ! Modi.
Lets chat over tea – `Chai Pe Charcha` in NaMo Tea Stall : “Modi Ji will solve our problems. He will attack Pakistan and bring `development` like he has in Gujarat. Arvind Kejriwal and Congress both are American Agents and cannot fight China or Pakistan.” An elder sipping Chai said-“Vajpayee our credible ex-PM is forgotten – he tried to settle many India-Pak roadblocks over a cup of `Chai`. Today`s generation has no consultation and respect for elders in BJP.” Advani comment on Jinnah`s `good` works and Pakistan is also buried over a cup of tea.
Chetan Bhagat in the recent past wrote big volumes on `Corruption and how AAP can help India grow`. Thanks to the NaMo Tea stalls (and their effect over the mind) Chetan Bhagat now takes a U-turn and becomes the Ambani-Modi Poster boy.
We often see Modi protecting only the cotton exporters and traders who want to export all cotton Lint/Fiber to China with `No Quota for textile mills`. This is done for a petty short-term profit.
As an Indian I tried my best to help Africans to replace the China tea leaves with India Tata Chai but failed. My African friends in several countries used to accept `free` tea leaf packs but later pursued their older tradition of making tea outside the office using cheap outdated Chinese tea leaves. They refuse to call it Chinese tea though and insisted that their local tea preparation as the best.
My appeal to all tea lovers including Chetan Bhagat is to go and enjoy the NaMo `Tea`. Once the `Chai` is over ask the sellers what they will do for a better India. If the stall owner fails to convince then ditch the stall by taking a `T` turn and explore other serious and safe `desi` options.
It is possible to have a corruption free life with `chai` and no Modi – there are alternatives.
By Rakesh Manchanda