Disclaimer – Though a lot of passing years has jaded my memory, I have tried to be as accurate as accurate can be.
I have always had a soft corner for village tea shops. We were truly spoilt for choices at the place where I grew up. We had three shops to choose from and I was a spoilt brat, thanks to my grand dad, who was quite a prominent figure.
Those ancestral-home visits were reserved for the long holidays. Many times have I gone to bed praying for it to start the very next day. But when I woke up, it was still those four white walls, looking and being looked upon.
The tea shops were always the same, the ambience never changed. If in one, the goddess smiled down on you with a shower of gold coins, at the next, it was Jesus Christ with an open wound to his heart, oozing blood and love. It smelled my favourite smell at the third tea-shop – that of freshly squeezed coconut oil.
It was in these shops that the world came together. It was in these shops that the news of the world was gathered and dispelled. It was here that a million 'matches-made-in-heaven' was finalized and it was here that rebellion first came to my little village. It was the place where my father got his strong circle of friends and it was here that I wished I could emulate my father and his close circle.
It was a million things in one, and then some more. It was a million things that many thought would not change, but did. It was a million things that described me, and then became strangers.
I walked those roads recently when I was home. Later, I wished I hadn’t.
The dried palm-leaf roof was gone, hard concrete boiled down on me. The little card-board sign which proclaimed the hotels name was long dead and gone. Plastic coated vinyl sheets glared down at me. The little wooden shelf which displayed the little round snacks were little no more. Nor were they wooden.
It was an 'Impersonal' steel hue everywhere, as long as my tear stained eye went. My old land was gone, to never ever come back. As I walked home, it began to rain, first as a drizzle and then as a torrent. For a fleeting moment, I felt god sharing my pain, for things that had gone horribly wrong.
Maybe one day, I will tell my grand children…'' Before Pepsi and Coke overtook my country, there were these three little tea shops…''