This year-end I was in Dehradun and amazed by the awesomely brilliant people with whom I interacted. I was also pleasantly amazed by their predilection for tea (apart from their charismatic personality). I profess, that the year 2014 ended sensationally with a wonderful interaction with iconic author Ruskin Bond in Mussoorie at Cambridge Book Store in the afternoon. And the moment I told him that I belong to West Bengal, he revealed that the name of the state instantly reminded him of Darjeeling Tea. "I have been to Darjeeling and Sikkim long before and that was the first time when I was introduced to Sikkim Tea," he affirmed. The authorities had organised a brilliant programme titled 'High tea with Ruskin Bond' and he conveyed to all the guests his addiction for a morning cup of tea. It attracted a huge audience and the event left the fans of the eminent writer elated. He was sitting there when I reached, against a backdrop of books, a paper cup of tea in his hand and a book store was full of tourist-fans like me waiting in line. As I was busy recording the exclusive conversation with him, I noticed how he was enthralled by that small cup of tea as the feeling of the same was palpable when he was taking a sip for all encounters & enquiries.
If I tell you that my Christmas was spent exploring some of the finest poems by Walt Whitman and tea flavours of the Himalayas, along with a poetic session with the famous actor Tom Alter, you would probably not believe me. But the fact is that he was in Mussoorie for the Christmas fiesta & fair and was fascinated with Himalayan tea. For someone who belongs to the tea fraternity that's great news. A good Himalayan tea usually blends first flush tea with lavender and lemongrass. With Padma Shri awardee Tom Alter reciting poetry amidst the enticing tea aromas, the evening couldn't have been planned better. Alter's recital of his own words, along with poems written by T S Eliot, Walt Whitman and W B Yeats, along with a nice aroma of Garwali Chai (its salty tea, prepared with butter) made it the perfect Christmas for me. A blend of American and British poetry, with some premium tea blends - sounds heavenly indeed!
Intellectual and actor Victor Banerjee, who immigrated from Kolkata to Landour (a lovely place near Mussorie, where Ruskin Bond stays) indulges in Autumn Tea with rose petals and lemon balm. The penchant for green tea has not yet become a trend in Dehra valley, at least that's what I realised. It was superb shopping for some souvenirs in Dehradun and especially hunting for some new blends of tea. But before I end the tale of my travel to Uttarakhand, let me tell you about the vigour of drinking tea that I felt in the house of my host Isha Sayna in Dehradun. She belongs to a typical traditional Garwal family and tea is taken at least ten times a day in their house. And most of the time, tea is consumed without sugar but with salt & butter.