Dark narrow street in old Varanasi, the voice in the head is quoting the Rigveda: “We have drunk Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered. Now what may foeman’s malice do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man’s deception?”

Photo: Zuzana Zwiebel

Hidden Tea stall is telling its story. Ray of light shines through boiling drop of water fallen from hot kettle. The steam is covering shop owner face. The glasses are arranged in an assembly line fashion. First a spoonful of sugar is put in each glass, followed by hot milk. Boiling water is then poured slowly over the soaked tea leaves from a tea sock. The tea sock is quickly passed over the glasses with one hand while hot water is poured from a kettle in the other hand. Instead of making a pot of tea, each glass is prepared individually.

Photo: Zuzana Zwiebel

Thousand of tea stalls can be found in the city, but some tea shops are still known for their unconventional style of making and serving tea. While the prominent tea shops of the city were found to be more than 50 years old, their method of preparation and serving tea and their regular customers are also different from each other. The most popular ones make around 1000 – 2000 glasses of tea every day.

Photo: Zuzana Zwiebel

As the evening sets in, people from different background, different religion come to drink tea. Daily routine starts and ends in the tea stalls. The narrator is listening distance voices discussing art, religion, literature, politics for hours, sipping chai with drop of soma and old soul of Tulsidas is waiting to be reincarnated as Valmiki in Kali Yuga…

Text: Zuzana Zwiebel

ART OF TRAVEL: www.shaktitrails.com

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