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Chai, sparrows and electricity

October 2021

The rainy season has ended. It felt like a Dutch summer to me. Some days the sunrays shone down and the laundry fluttered on the lines. In the background a pallet of green shades: forested mountains, fresh from the latest rains. On other days drops poured down from the sky. Clouds floated around the house. Sometimes the fog would drift into the rooms when I opened the windows. Even the chickens got lost in cottons when they roamed outside. The whole valley disappeared into an oasis of white. It had something beautiful, the shifts in sparkling clear weather and cosy mysterious haze.


Today the morning sun shines through the pine trees. The light glides gently over the walls of the house. Sparrows twitter and try to seek all the small hideouts in the grooves between the stones. It’s cosy and although we need to fill up the grooves sooner or later, I hope to keep some places available for the sparrows. ‘Yes, this will become a homestay for sparrows too’, I think. For sparrows and humans. How nice.


The electrician enters. He’s been to the barber and has chosen for a smooth look: on top a bit longer and shorter on the sides. Or perhaps his barber has chosen it for him. He smiles friendly while he stands in the room tangled in wires. I walk to the kitchen to make a cup of chai for him. Chai is Hindi for tea and is made from black tealeaves with milk and sugar. Everything is boiled in a pan on the stove. Drinking chai finds its origin more than 5000 years back in India, when a king ordered a healing drink of spices and herbs according to Ayurveda: a natural medicine tradition. The chai of that time contained spices like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

Nowadays all Indians seem to be fond of, almost addicted to, the drink of chai.

Around 1850, black tea, milk and sugar were added when Englishmen came to cultivate black tea in India. Nowadays all Indians seem to be fond of, almost addicted to, the drink of chai. I believe there is an unwritten life motto here that says: a day without chai is a day not living. Twice or thrice a day it’s drunk by Indians from every age, region and caste. Sometimes with namkeen (salty snacks) on the side. I too take a chai in the afternoon, preferably in the chilly air outdoors while I look over the mountains from our place. Because why not?


Meanwhile the electrician chases his way through the walls. Every room will be covered with dust and gravel for a while. Only now I realize how much is needed for light and current in a house. Meters and meters of wires, for example. It requires good planning and communication. We allow for solar panels in future. All this work will eventually be hidden, if done well. And then we take the luxury of a light switch for granted. So: cheers to all the craftsmen that make it possible. And to the chai’s that lighten up the tough work for them.

With love,



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