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Blog 62 Jaipur to Neemrana

20th November

My rest day really revived my spirits and I set off on highway 48 almost dancing on my pedals, not before I had an early morning chai and savoury pastry near the edge of the city. Chai Masala makes my day. Chai is a popular beverage throughout South Asia, originating in the early modern Indian subcontinent and is made by brewing black tea in milk and water and then sweetening with sugar. Adding aromatic herbs and spices, often ginger creates Masala Chai.


The Art of Making Masala Chai

A Bit of Information

Masala chai originated in the 1900s during the British colonization of India when chaiwallahs (street vendors selling chai) began adding spices and milk to tea.


China had a monopoly on the European supply of tea, and the East India Trading Company had a monopoly on Chinese tea in England. Once China restricted the export of tea, the British were desperate to find another source. They discovered tea in Assam that was almost identical to that in China. The British began cultivating tea in 1838 at plantations in Assam using cheap Indian labor.

Due to the lack of knowledge on processing and transport, the tea produced was incredibly low quality, crop yields were low, and export outside of India was difficult. The Indian Tea Association, made up of British tea planters, decided to promote tea drinking to a wider audience to maintain their profits. Indians were given mandatory tea breaks as part of a marketing campaign. Chaiwallahs popped up around India. Inspired by Ayurvedic practices, they began adding milk and spices to tea. It also masked low quality tea and enticed customers with special spice blends.

The British thought the addition of spices were an abomination to the tea they spent decades developing. They tried to squash stalls that strayed away from standard practice, believing that the use of spices meant less tea leaves were necessary.


Obviously, that didn't work since masala chai still exists today thanks to the rebellious chaiwallahs that stuck to it.


Due to the lack of knowledge on processing and transport, the tea produced was incredibly low quality, crop yields were low, and export outside of India was difficult. The Indian Tea Association, made up of British tea planters, decided to promote tea drinking to a wider audience to maintain their profits.


After I battled with the traffic which is a daily experience there were the camel pastoralists of Rajasthan to enjoy. They believe that Shiva created them to be the guardians of the camel. They are the custodians of a long and proud heritage which goes back at least 600 years and there is an ultimate contrast when you see them in the traffic - like me - in a place you think they shouldn’t be.


Custodians of the Camel


Scene from Where I Stopped

India is changing. When I was last on this very route the four lane highway was in the process of being built. As a two lane thoroughfare it was outrageously dangerous even by my motoring standards but now it was an easy task being absorbed by traffic mostly travelling the same direction. I stopped on an overpass on National Highway 48 from Jaipur to Neemrana and spotted this amazing scene. The dusty colour tells me 'film grain'. As a film maker you are always tempted to follow the action but these are simple scenes designed for the viewer to make up their own mind about the moment.


Map of the Day


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