City Slickers India: There is Always Time for Tea


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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Pali
November 12th 2018
Published: November 14th 2018
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Never underestimate the power of tea and the community of sharing tea. This is something we learned from the Raika.

From the beginning, Dad and I were fully aware of our mission: get these camels to Pushkar in a safe and timely manner. But what we learned is that you get them to the fair in due time and along the way, you take time for tea and you take time for community. This sort of pace is not exactly a large part of our structured, get-these-tasks-finished sort of lifestyle, but we are learning.

When it is time for tea and you are in the middle of the desert, making tea can be quite a process.

First you have to milk the camel. In order to do this, you must get her baby near her, let the baby nurse awhile on one side of her and then quickly milk on her other side.

Then the sticks and twigs must be gathered so that a small fire can be built.

Everyone gathers in the shade as the desert sun is a harsh one and the shade makes all the difference in the world.

In the shade, several big rocks are found and sat together with the twigs to make a campfire.

When the fire is adequate the camel milk, in a metal container, is put on the fire. Tea is added to the milk and it is brought to a boil.

Once it is boiling, the metal container of camel milk is lifted off the fire using two sticks that were recently acquired.

Then the milk is put back on the fire and brought to a boil two more times.

The camel milk tea must be strained and poured into the small metal bowls used as drinking cups.

The tea is savored and time is spent talking, all the while keeping eyes on the camels who are browsing the available trees and thorn bushes.

Once the tea has been consumed, it is time to smoke some tobacco using the small bits of charcoal that remains in the camp fire.

And before the ceremony of fellowship ends, the metals cups and milk container must be cleaned. This is done the old fashioned way. The really old fashioned way. Dirt is used to scrub away the grit and then water is poured on the dishes to clear the dirt. It is amazing how clean they become, but it is also amazing how so much is accomplished with so little.

That philosophy also holds true with the Raika’s consumption. Their nomadic lifestyle on the way to Pushkar does not allot them many provisions. They bring containers for water, a cup for tea and a blanket for sleeping. They have tea, tobacco and a bit of sugar. All other food consumption comes from stops at friends or relatives in villages they pass through. Often, the tea is what gives them fuel and energy.

The Raika move at a steady pace and cover a lot of ground en route to the fair in Pushkar, but they also embrace the need to take time for tea.


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