My darling Sara, the part time help comes to visit. After numerous hugs, kisses and blessings, she starts to fuss over how much weight I’ve lost (haven’t, it’s just love). She yells at the Sugar man, ‘are you feeding her only vegetables? Give her some mutton.’ ‘Yeh sabzi khatti nahin he, isliye itni garmi he khoon aur dimaag me!’, argues my vegetarian cook.
I bid them adieu, as I have a lunch date with my ex assistant’s parents. I hog the delectable meal and chat about the ongoing encounter in Ganderbal,of course I am dissuaded from going. T, my photo journalist friend calls up. ‘ There’s an encounter taking place close to Eidgah! Do you want to go?’ I excuse myself and leave in haste.
By the time we meet, he’s figured out it’s a false alarm. A quick coffee at Books and Bricks later, we go our seperate ways. It’s been snowing since morning and I don’t want to spend the evening, freezing in my apartment.
So I head to Chai Jaai, a tea room on the Bund, with a fantastic view of the Jhelum and the snow. It reminds me of the afternoon I spent last year in Darjeeling holed up in a tea room/ shop with my friends sipping white tea, while it poured outside. At Chai Jaai, a variety of those teas are available and so are eight different types of Kashmiri teas like-Noon Chai and Dam Tout . I order a classic cup of Kehwa with a shirmal (a local bread).
It’s a romantic evening spent by myself, listening to Adele and some Kashmiri songs , playing softly in the background, while sipping tea and admiring the paper machie wall. If you’re not a big tea drinker , drop in to Chai Jaai only for the wall and the photographs that adorn the corridors.