Friday, May 04, 2012

Tea with the Family

With two days left before I had to return back to Chennai, time was spent in a leisurely fashion, partaking in some of the routines of the family. Mornings always started with a cup of tea. The mother always got up early, preparing the tea (both salt tea and the Qahwasweet tea flavored with saffron and sprinkled with chopped almonds she knew I liked). Sitting on a low stool in the tiled kitchen, she kneaded the dough and deftly transformed it into nearly perfectly round chapatis. A relative comes in the unlocked front door, wearing his pheran and greeting the mother. She offers him some tea, along with some still-warm chapatis. Over the two-burner gas stove, she flips the chapati onto its other side, engaging in morning greetings simultaneously. The grandmother wearing her pheran with zari embroidery enters the carpeted portion of the kitchen, settling into her usual spot with its comfy floor cushions. The father enters and begins the first of many cups of tea. With his government job, he has several hours before he has to leave for work. One by one, the children also come and make their spot in the room. A neighbor comes in and joins the morning tea routine. The pace is unhurried and relaxed, a great time to converse. For Kashmiris, tea time is much more than the contents of a cup - it’s an integral part of their community. 

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