Monday, July 15, 2013

Cardamom tea in tiny glasses

Amrutalya tea shop. Dandekar Bridge , Pune

Amrutalya tea shops are an old institution in Pune.  They are small shops that serve tea in tiny glasses like the one next to my pen and notebook.  The tea is milky, sweet and cardamom flavored. The tea is brewed every hour or so depending on the customers. For a quick sip, they also offer a "cutting chai".  It's half of that tiny glass. It was a slow afternoon.  The owner was sitting and staring out into the street.  Laid back fellow.  Cheerful. He saw me drawing. After a bit he sang a Hindi song from an old movie, " Yeh kaun chitrakar hai?..."("Who is this artist?")  The lyrics describe the musing of a farmer as he surveys the glories of nature and rhetorically wonders about the artist( presumably the Good Lord) that rendered them.  This guy just loved singing that lyric over and over.  And then he would grin at me and go back to staring at the road smiling to himself pleased about remembering the song with a reference to an artist.  I grinned back and kept drawing.

I drank three glasses. He crushed the cardamom for his brew in the brass pestle and mortar on the upper shelf.  The brass teapot and the stainless steel milk urn are typical.  When the place is full of customers he sits crosslegged on the brown seat on the platform. The drawer is where he stashes his money and makes change.  He asked me to come back.