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By: DR. G.RANGARAJAN
A TEA PARTY AND SWEET NOTHINGS
A tea party and sweet nothings.
RCBS , KOCHI
It is not always that you come across intriguing moments when you are on a stroll, taking the quietest roads or bye lanes. But then, when you notice something unusual you are curious and would pause to learn about the situation. I identified a road which appeared to be one not taken by many and the traffic lean .I thought moving in the road was an advantage as I would not come across familiar people whom I need to greet with a wave or a pause. On the very first day I found that there was a sweet meat shop which was fairly busy. The shop was selling hot jangiris and jilebis. I thought they must be special and exotic. A couple of days later I decided to change my time of stroll to later than 5.30 and was quietly moving forward, keeping company to my own thoughts. As I walked along I found that a crowd had congregated in front of the shop. This time I also found some rickety stools and old wooden table just outside the shop. Some elderly men were sitting and chatting, laughing loudly and nibbling jilebis which were passed around in a news paper. There was also a lean guy was selling tea. His steel tea can was tethered to his cycle and he was using disposable paper cups. I thought I should spend a few minutes watching the merry group. I had no intention of acquainting myself with anyone in the group. I was very particular to be left alone during my quiet walks and did not wish to pause and chat or exchange pleasantries with anyone. I wanted to cover the distance at one go without any interruption. But the special group intrigued me a lot and I found them in the same spot the next and the days that followed. Why is it that these people gathered there with regularity? The tea seller would be off by the time I returned after covering my usual stretch. The gathering would then be shaking hands ready to part. I discovered that the whole activity lasted only for 45 minutes or so. On closer observation I realized that ninety percent of them looked older than 65 and a few in their late fifties. The baldness, grayness and the casualness were indicative of a retired disposition. May be 12 or thirteen in number, and they were very genial to each other. One day I took the same route as usual and found that there was nobody outside the shop and the tea seller had a gloomy look. My curiosity got the upper hand and I found myself gravitating toward s the sweet shop. I asked the guy why there was nobody on that day. He said one of them died in the morning and the companions were participating in the funeral.
I asked him about the group and he said that they enjoyed his freshly made sweets every evening and would drink tea and part. I thought I would take a cup of tea and ordered for one. He said “Saab this is sugarless tea that I sell!’ I was surprised! The guys were passing jilebis and jangiris and why were they drinking sugarless tea! I asked the shop owner and I was awe stuck by his reply. He was telling me that all those who gathered there were acutely diabetic and they were banned from taking anything sweet at home by their wives and families. Since the entire group had sweet tooth they formed a group to flout all the ‘bans’ and make merry. They consoled themselves with a feeling, that after all, they were drinking sugarless tea after a few rounds of jilebis and jangiris. The next day I passed by and found that they were back to square one with one short. I knew that the number would dwindle but new members would join to keep the Tea Party ticking with no political moorings.