Sunday, January 6, 2008

REFLECTIONS OF INDIA - "CHAI?"
January 6, 2007 - to Bangalore, Karnataka

A HARROWING RIDE THROUGH BANGALORE. One year ago, five of us who had started pedaling from Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, India seven days earlier, arrived in Bangalore, Karnataka. Bangalore is a city of 10 million souls--and we think they were all on National Highway 7, our route into the metropolis. A far cry from the light traffic in rural areas, we were in thick traffic all the way into Bangalore. Once in the city, our host led us on his motorcycle to a guest house. “Led us” means that we wound our way through four lanes of traffic packed with all sorts of vehicles, turning left and right, crossing lanes back and forth. Harrowing. And invigorating!

AFTER EIGHT DAYS. To this point, we had ridden an average of 110 kilometers (68 miles) a day for eight straight days. We were not exhausted, but we were certainly looking forward to a rest day. In Bangalore, we said farewell to our Tamil Nadu riders Jose and Anand. These young men rode strong and had great humor; they would be the best Indian riders we would have with us on the six-week journey.

"CHAI?" We enjoyed chai several times each day--first thing in the morning, at mid-morning break, mid-afternoon break, and usually in the evening. Indian chai is hot Indian tea mixed with hot milk, spices, and lots of sugar. I suppose tea time in India is a tradition held over from English days. I drink generous amounts of coffee--black, no sugar--but I didn't have any coffee during this excursion. Indian chai won my taste and heart. I prefer Indian-style tea to what I know of English and American teas. I also prefer it to coffee. But, despite Gope sending me home with Indian tea and his own recipe, I can't match the native Indian taste (another good excuse for returning to India!)

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