A storm in a teacup

A storm in a teacup

Laloo will insist on tea served in kulhad (mud-pot) being made the national drink.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia has stirred the hornets’ nest, as it were, by saying recently at Jorhat that tea would be declared the national drink of India by next year. He didn’t stop just at that; he said there is a historical connection as the first indigenous tea planter Maniram Dewan was hanged by the British in 1857, so the tea has its roots in the freedom struggle. Ayyo! does he even know the struggle many Tamilians and Kannadigas have from times immemorial, with their wives/moms over ‘filter kapi’ in bed, every morning (noon, afternoon and evening too)? So they would strongly recommend ‘Kapi-in-Dabara-tumbler’ to be the national drink. At the coffee get-together every morning at 11 in our cafeteria, the coffee drinkers outnumber the tea-ones. If I take a vote there, I can get it published on the net to enlist support with the war-cry: “Kapi drinkers of Bharat, unite!”

Keralites are fond of tea and are reputed to have even welcomed Tenzing at Everest with: ‘Chooda chai kudichcho?’ so, they will overwhelmingly vote against us. I have seen a Kerala tea shop at an unlikely place: Chimakoti, the highest point on the road from Phuntsholing to Thimphu in Bhutan! Those from Andhra and Namma Karnataka prefer coffee but being peace-loving may not pick up the gauntlet for kapi!

Go further north and the Mumbaikar who loves his ‘cutting’ (namma by-two-tea by another name) will any day agree for tea. Same for Gujarat. Moving east, although there is a permanent squabble as to which of the two: Dooars or Darjeeling, is the better tea, Assam and Bengal will unite to vote for the cause of tea.

Laloo will insist on tea in kulhad (mud-pot) should be the national drink, just as he had introduced in Indian Railways. Those from UP and Haryana would like to know if by tea becoming the national drink, they would lose their ‘khada chammch’ sugar; because sugar is more important to them than tea as they add tea to sugar, unlike the rest of India. Punjab would prefer lassi in a Patiala glass to be the national drink and so their anti-vote can be assured!

Chinese, Korean and Japanese with their tea ceremonies may not relish our intrusion into their exclusivity. I almost forgot Sri Lanka: one of the best tea-producing countries in the world, its tea is supplied to the British royal family. They serve tea whenever a guest comes home; at festivals and gatherings or just for breakfast.

After the recent Indian vote in the UN, they may drag us to International Court of Justice, as they consider tea from Kandy as superior and a part of their culture!
Let us wait and watch, as Ahluwalia has given a year for the declaration!

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