I was in my apartment one night, sipping green tea, my favorite kind, made with the actual leaves and not with tea bags. I sat there on the dining chair, staring at the water-ring my cup had made on the table. There was no one else across me, except for an empty dining chair. Meh, not as if anyone was supposed to be there. I wanted to live alone, and I was living alone. But all I could think about was this cup of green tea that was in front of me on the table, and why I couldn’t stand the bitterness that its contents left on my tastebuds each time I took a sip. It used to be so good before, and I recommended this brand to so many friends of mine who hated green tea tea-bags. The last time I had it was two or three months ago, with my friend and former roomie, Nisha. I guess we were regularly having it every night back then. By the way, I don’t know when I started drinking green tea. Or what made me do so. Or where I got that pack of green tea from.
[After about twenty minutes of rewinding my memories, I finally found the exact time-frame.]
I went to Bangalore in February to attend the NIFT campus placements there, and stayed with my dad’s cousin in her apartment. For me, she has always been this supercool icon or role-model or whatever it is that people look up to and try to be. And when I got there on that really chilly Bangalore morning in February with the cold reaching down to my very spine, she made me that hot cup of green tea which I badly needed. My very first cup of green tea.
She put in some dried, curled up leaves into the boiling water, and they slowly became its usual self – long, green leaves – like magic. I have seen my dad and mom drinking green tea, but those were made with tea bags. Two dips and voila, tea! So I watched this entire, otherwise mediocre, but now totally intriguing tea-making process, wide-eyed. When the liquid in the vessel had become slightly greenish, she cut off the flame and took the vessel down. She added a pinch of sugar, and transferred the colorful fluid into two glasses. There I was, standing with a hot glass of green tea wedged between my palms, soaking in the warmth that it bought to my whole body. We came to the living room, sat down, and started talking. I enjoyed every sip of the green tea, thinking why on earth I haven’t ever thought of trying it before! We talked until the previous night’s left-over sleep started crawling back on both of us. J chechi (I call her ‘chechi’ despite the nature of relation) and I usually have conversations which I consider myself lucky to have had, and this time, the green tea just added to it. She warned me that most people dislike green tea due to its odd taste, but I found myself considering it slightly delicious even! Anyway, as soon as I got home and told my dad about the magic of dried, crumbled up leaves becoming green when it’s put into hot water, he bought me a pack of green tea leaves just before I went back to Cochin.
I lived in a PG accommodation that time in Cochin, a two-storeyed house with two rooms downstairs, Nisha and I occupying each one. Every night after the house-owner has gone upstairs, we make a cup of green tea and start talking. Oh, how I loved those conversations! It is through those that we became the close friends that we are now. The reason why we still hang out and call each other, even if we don’t live together anymore. I gave her that pack of green tea before moving out, and she says that she has never enjoyed the tea like she used to after I’ve left. I felt touched and happy when she said that, even though I didn’t think that was actually true, given the fact that girls overdo emotions sometimes. Being a girl, I should know better.. hehe! I was thinking that the tea didn’t taste nice since she probably added too less, or too much tea to the water, as it was always I who used to make the tea for us. I judge the tea by its color, by its greenish-ness, which is why it tasted nice, except for the first two or three days when I added too much tea to the water.
Today, I did observe the green color that was developing inside the kettle. I stopped when it took the right shade of green. Math did not fail me tonight during the entire tea-making process. Then why did it taste so bitter and not delicious like before? Wasn’t it the same brand of tea-leaves that I recommended to my friends? And why am I thinking about all these green-tea moments that happened in the past? And then suddenly it dawned on me. Nisha was not overdoing it when she said that about the tea. It was not the tea that tasted so nice. It was never about the tea. The tea was the same all throughout, even now. Bitter! Little did I realize until now that it was the conversations that made the tea taste delicious!