Dubai Diaries: Are you a tea lover?
A simple cup of tea can bring back so many good memories.
Often, when I enjoy some ‘me’ time with my favourite beverage, I realize how a simple cup of tea can evoke a hundred memories. Back in the ‘80s, when my only caffeine fix was the occasional fizzy drink, my mother would make tea every morning in a little aluminium kettle, while I would pretend to enjoy the morning staple of boiled egg and Horlicks, before both of us headed out to catch the school bus.
At that age (I was in my mid-teens), older folk’s obsession with tea amused me. It was common for my parents to be offered tea when they visited friends (no matter what the time of day), and vice-versa. The teachers in my mother’s staff-room took turns to bring tea to school to share with others. She herself was the proud owner of a pretty floral print Japanese flask that would without fail be lovingly carted to school every couple of days.
As a 17-year-old ‘Dubai kid’ who had never tasted the much-adored beverage in her entire life, you can imagine my surprise when within just a few days of enrolling myself at a college and hostel in India, I was gulping down mugs of tea everyday. I am not sure how or when this first occurred, but I do know that most girls in the hostel were super-friendly and knowing I was an outsider to the city went out of their way to make me comfortable - and what better way to do this than over a cup of tea! After that I was well and truly hooked.
I learned how to make boiled tea with fresh milk and took turns with my room-mates to prepare the daily chai fix. I am filled with a quiet and inexplicable joy when I look back at those shared moments of tea and conversation, during idyllic years when the simplicity of life outshone any seeds of cynicism that might have taken root.
On holidays in Dubai, I turned to Rainbow milk and Lipton tea-bags to concoct my daily cuppa(s), much to the surprise of my mother, who noticed my newfound respect for her old tea-flask. Even when I graduated from college and moved on, my love for tea remained and over the years it has seen me through countless good and bad times.
During a three-month night shift at an outsourcing centre in India (my first job), tea was what got me through hours of sleep-deprived transcription work. Chai and ‘maska bun’ breaks were also how we bonded with new colleagues who hailed from all parts of the country.
And as far as chai time in Dubai goes, some of the happiest moments in my life have been spent alone in the city’s cafes, watching the world go by and letting my favourite beverage work its magic. On a parting note, the places where I’ve had some of best tea in Dubai are Ravi Restaurant, Urban Tadka, Bikanervala and Sind Punjab. Enjoy tea-time!