By Peter Livingston
I brought Chai Wallah gear home from India. In 3 weeks I will be preparing chai for maybe 50 people at the BackToLodestar camp reunion.
For some reason, I've become fascinated by, and a little obsessed with the chai wallahs (a person who makes and/or sells tea) who work on the streets of India. I want to be a chai wallah. In California. Not a whole new career. Not even a part-time retirement endeavor. But maybe for one or two events a year. Like a music festival. Or the county fair. Or a few special annual once-a-year events. I like the taste of chai. I like the sound of the flame heating the water, milk, tea, and spices. I like the way the liquid bubbles up, froths, and is then knocked down (or in this case, partially removed from the intense heat), only to boil again, steam issuing forth from the big aluminum pot. I like the pouring of the mixture through the strainer and into the little cups; the captured tea and spices put back into the pot to serve as the base for the next batch.
I like the ritual of it; the drama of it; the art of it. I like the visuals, the kinetics, the sounds, the rythms. My souvenirs from India will be various components of the chai wallah trade. I want to be a chai wallah; in California.
I better get to practicing my Chai Wallah skills now. The pressure is on....
Saying it out loud, or even thinking it quietly, the name Lodestar conjures up powerful memories and reflections. And meaning.