My hometown of Chennai is getting battered by rains once again and there is widespread flooding, power cuts and evacuations happening. While flooding has become more common the past few years, there was a time when the rains were a welcome respite from the heavy humidity of my coastal hometown.
Rains almost always meant rich smells of a fertile earth, tamarind seeds falling to the ground, stately Banyan trees drooping with the weight of the weeping skies, the incessant tapping against asbestos sheds and of course steaming cups of chai, piping hot pakoras and crunchy vadas.
I miss the rains of my childhood, where a heavy downpour or an incessant drizzle meant no school. It meant jumping into puddles without worrying about colds and viruses, floating precarious paper boats in the temporary lake puddles. It meant shaking the branches of trees till every droplet made into onto our heads and we were soaked to our skins. It meant splashing around with the neighborhood kids and friends while our otherwise “un-fun”, practical parents watched on with both indulgence and resignation. We finally would go back home like wet kittens, shivering with excitement and the cold and giggling with the thrill of having done something so unexpectedly ordinary.
Nowadays, I don’t worry about power cuts or walking through murky puddles on the cracked pavement during the rain. I worry about schools closing and keeping my kids occupied at home with no extra help. I worry that we can’t have the neighbors over because someone has the sniffles, it also very often entails a quick run to CVS or Walgreens, humidifiers, Netflix and Disney.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is that pot of masala chai that is constantly simmering or being refilled in my kitchen. Chai during the rains is like a hug from my childhood. It’s my biggest indulgence, whole milk, white sugar and a handful of my favorite spices. The Chai Aur Hum box is a nod to my childhood and Chennai rains. It has a box of specially curated masala tea by the Sri Lankan tea brand Theneer. It has a bag of artisanal chikki, a traditional Indian sweet snack made with nuts and sugar or jaggery. It is a delightful treat that brings tastes of home with every bite. The box also comes with hand painted terracotta tea glasses and a matching bowl to fully enjoy the Chai Aur Hum experience.
Rain or shine, our Chai Aur Hum box brings back the smells and tastes of home. it’s almost like I’m back in Chennai, looking through the leaves of the seethaphal tree to see if my friends are already outside, running around our streets, whooping with the unbridled joy of youth and childhood.