Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Storm over a tea cup (how I can never be a tea totaler)

Here I am, creating a storm, no, no, a tsunami 'over' a tea cup, giving the proverb a quirky twist. Why not! Like today, for me missing my afternoon tea caused nothing short of a storm of sorts 'over' a tea cup, my 'forced' abstention from that healthy addiction. How can I describe that tea-deprived state of mind - when suddenly the mind goes blank, slowing down my reflexes, creating a drowsy feeling, craving for that missed cup... and important tasks that demand my complete attention and participation...before I get recharged for the rest of the week. In fact, missing my afternoon tea also triggers the dreadful migraine that I'm susceptible to.

If I were Keats or Shelley I would have definitely written an ode on this elixir of life. The wonderful leaves from the shrub Camellia Sinesis - tea has a story to tell in most of our lives. Sadly, the action between the cup, the lip and the sip is such a routine that we often forget to appreciate the magic of this 'mundane ritual'. The very thought of it arouses a fresh and active feeling that stimulates and energizes to catch up with life and the daily chores.

Many tea lovers and connoisseurs believe that preparing a good cup of tea is not everybody's cup of tea! Mainly because the taste of tea is so such a personal thing. Some like it with more milk and sugar, some others hate to see milk in their tea. The hardcore tea lovers like me, vouch for the taste of long leaves and light decoction unlike the extract prepared from popular CTC packs available all over the shops. There's the other type who like it in its Irani avatar served in most of the local cafes in Hyderabad.

For most of us, office-goers, tea breaks give us the much needed break to enjoy the fresh air outside the AC cubicles, with a hot cup, catching up with all the gossip. It's also the time for the dip-dip tea bags and conversations around the vending machines.

Yes, tea is something personal. Coming from a family of tea-lovers it's hard for me to accept anything that goes in the name of tea, especially the boiled and brewed sugary 'tea' that sticks to your tongue, leaving an unsavoury taste of milk and sugar, successfully wiping out the color, flavor and aroma. How can I not be  fussy or finicky about it. The magic of tea lies is in the quality of leaves and the way the decoction is prepared...in a kettle? Using tea bag? I like it best when I prepare it myself. Sometimes, my recipe includes a piece of ginger crushed and added to the boiling water when I need that extra kick to wake me up properly after deep sleep and feel charged-up, especially on a rainy day or cold winter mornings. In summers, cold tea is okay with a squeeze of lemon and  a dash of mint for added freshness. Green tea is the in thing, the new mantra for anti-oxidants and a craze among fitness freaks. Any supermarket gives you dozens of brands, organic variants, with all kinds of flavours mint, lemon, ginger, chamomile, jasmine, tulasi, masala, cardamom and what not.

But believe me, tea tastes best when it's enjoyed in its pure form - black or green- without any added flavors, savoured without any accompaniments like cookies, biscuits and pakodas, if possible while listening to this composition from Dr. Bhupen Hazarika from the land of tea...the songs goes: Ek kali do pattiyan, nazuk nazuk ungliyan, tod rahi hai...here it is.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Cricket in the time of Facebook
This is first World Cup Cricket (WCC) on Facebook and it's a different kind of excitement as we see the changing face of community viewing! The fact that Cricket is in the DNA of our country needs no better manifestation - you may love it or hate it but you cannot ignore it! You need not be following the all the matches and need not know who is in the team but it somehow enters your system because we all breathe the same air. Some interesting updates on Facebook during/after the India-Pakistan match which made the experience a different one, here's a random pick (with sporting spirit and in a lighter vein)

"2011WC is a study of modes of transport. Aussie sent home via flight, Pak via Road, and now Sri Lanka's turn on saturday to take the ship." Ashish Tiwari

"‎#IndvsPak #Mohali a good match. Terrific win and Thanks to invisible security people who kept it free of incidence." Ashish Tiwari
"yessssssssssssssssssssss, i wish there was a scream button on fb." Brunda Murthy
"Nehra Nehra Karo jeet ka rang gehra!!!" Rosemeen Khimani
"Spare a thought for the man behind the success of Team India- Gary Kirsten !!!" Vinod Sharma
"Joke of the Day- Team India has done what Indian Intelligence agencies couldnt do ........ Keep Pakistan out of Mumbai."Vinod Sharma
‎"2003 avenged! :) Australia knocked out! :D" Dhurjati Bhattacharyya
But then, Facebook also had those irritating ball-by-ball updates, which were more frustrating and less cheering and some comments disgraceful to the game itself and potentially harmful and ugly. However, what is interesting in the phenomenon is the 'virtual community' of 'friends' sharing updates and commenting though not watching together at the same time and in the same space...on the positive side.
Cut to the first world cup victory by India: I have vague memories of 1983 Prudential Cup won by Kapil Dev's men in white. Then, there was no blue, no merchandise and TV was just evolving as a 'virtual stadium'. We watched it on our first TV - a B/W Dyanora. And the game was less aggressive unlike the  terminators, destroyers and eliminators of today.
One reason why I remember that match was because it was important to know everything about it for any GK quiz. Memorably, the score was 183 and the year 1983 (some connection between the year and the score?) On a superstitious note, any clues for this year's final match? Ok, let me not link the year and score, using this equation/speculation this year the score could be 211 (from the year 2011)...and that's not an encouraging figure against Sri Lanka, assuming India bats first.
Now, I've another superstition, about this year's world cup: after I purchased the new TV and I was particular about buying it during the WCC, I was happy to see that India got three consecutive wins (against West Indies, Australia and Pakistan) and will it repeat against Sri Lanka?
Now move to 2015, the next WCC to be jointly hosted by Australia and Newzealand. It's difficult to imagine how Facebook or other such social tools would change the face of the game. Imagine with 4G and beyond, and Internet TV and all that. Would be all be watching the match on the Internet like a virtual stadium. I'm sure today's buttons on FB wil l be a thing of the past. How many other apps would be there to make the game a techno-gizmo-wonder? Till then, let's hope that 1983 repeats after 28 years!