Vipin says he’ll make his own tea. That’s what most people come down to, once they’ve had a taste of mine. My tea is nothing more than hot water, a dash of milk, and a robust but not overpowering tea leaf (Ah, Taj!)

What most people in India drink ofcourse, is brewed tannic acid. Water, milk, sugar and tea leaves boiling together for atleast ten minutes. Yuck! Well, I grew up on that tea, loved it. Then, Sudeep, the quintessential Bengali converted me to a more sophisticated version, though I still haven’t reached his no milk, and green tea leaves nirvana.

The problem is when one is on the roads, there’s nothing but the sweet, milky chai available. I must have my four o’clock fix, and yet this chai makes me nauseous now. A high caffeine aerated drink helps out at times.

At Mini’s house, her domestic help finally agrees to make me my second cup. She says, it’s like the tea the people in her village have. 3 rupees worth of sugar for 8-10 cups. That’s around 100 gms. I don’t quite believe her, because nowhere in the country, I’ve seen anybody skimping on sugar, not the poorest people. My own domestic help, who I have to force feed most days, goes through 3 kilos of sugar at home, in a month, and more than 1/2 kilo of sugar at my place. That’s one thing I don’t have to ask her to consider as her own.

At Mini’s place, her help drinks tea loaded with cream and sugar, the sign of affluence. And laughs at me, who chooses to drink the poor villager’s version of tea.