Last week I went to Lucknow, by train- Shatabdi to be precise. Getting up at 5 in the morning was compensated by the thought of having tea in ‘Kulhar’ (earthen glasses).
The memories of my childhood days in Lucknow, went flashing through my head. I would sometimes visit an Eating Joint (not a flamboyant joint- that’s why ‘sometimes’) called ‘Sharma Tea Stall’, which was famous in Lucknow for it’s bun-makkhan (bun with butter) & Kulhar mein Chai. That’s the first place where I was introduced to Kulhar mein Chai, as a kid. I absolutely loved it. Tea tasted different in Kulhar; not to forget the aroma of mud along with that of Tea. (No wonder the tea served in ‘kulhar’ was more expensive than that served in cup- they charge you for the ‘experience’- slice of life products). I also made it a point to have tea in kulhar at the roadside Dhabas, during journeys by road. Beside everything else (I believe) Kulhars were the most hygienic option. Let me fast forward to 28th August, 2004. I’m sitting in the train, looking out through the window at the green fields… Maybe not-so-green… We didn’t have good monsoons this year… 31 districts declared drought hit… poor farmers…(thoughts abridged) My thoughts were disturbed by the train attendant, for tea. He placed the tray and a glass. A Glass!!! “Hey! Excuse me.” My sister called out before I could recover from the shock of seeing a glass. My sister continued “Don’t you have Kulhars?” “Yes we have , Ma’am.” “ Then we’ll prefer Kulhars. Please get two of them” Turning to me, she asked, “You want Kulhar to, right?” I ‘nodded ‘ (a ‘yes’ of course). I was still contemplating why wasn’t the sever carrying Kulhars along with the glasses. The last time when I travelled in July, they had both Kulhars & glasses and would ask passengers what they’d prefer. Why did they withdraw the option? Is it because most of the passengers didn’t want it? If yes, then why? Are the Kulhars unfashionable or uncivilised or both? We used it in Ancient India, the why not now?
A simple question- “Just how many of my fellow Indians eat non-Indian food (whatever it’s nationality be) three times a day, seven days a week?” Wait, I’m coming to the point. If eating Indian food (cooked the same style through centuries) hasn’t become unfashionable and uncivilised then why Kulhars? Especially when it’s the best option of the two (2nd being glass-even if it’s not plastic), at least in public transports like train. I’m not going to give an encore on benefits of Kulhars, as it’s been heard many times in the past couple of months. I just want to ask everyone to go for Kulhars. One should feel proud of it. At least Indians can do it for a start and maybe, as always, the world will follow us.
Once, again the trail of my thoughts was disturbed by the train attendant- offering me a Kulhar this time. My sister and I were the only 2 passengers in the whole compartment sipping tea from Kulhar; 'proudly'.
this reminds me of the numerous cups (err.. kulhars) of tea which i drank on agra-mathura-delhi track... hmmm.. its tastes so good.. yummy
tea is those earthen glasses totally different altogether. when i was a student at jal i was not much of a tea drinker. but i used to make sure i drank tea in up, just for those earthen pots.
anything in them plain rocks.