Time for Tea

Dearest ______,

I like it how in many parts of the world, tea is an event in itself. I became a recipient of bewildered looks inside a cafe in Casablanca once, when I ordered: “Tea. To go, please.” Older gentlemen huddled around tables were murmuring among themselves as staff behind the counter tried to explain that their cups didn’t come with covers, nor cardboard sleeves.

There I was, right at the beginning of a supposedly relaxing 10-day holiday, rushing to get a hot beverage “to-go” so I can, what, go drink it piping hot while aimlessly walking around? Relax and take several seats, giiirrrl.

For someone who has for years made coffee or tea a minor kickoff for some other thing (i.e. a full day of work, an all-nighter before exams, etc), It still strikes me as unnatural when people suggest that the thing itself is actually the tea. Or the coffee. I’ve met people for meals at all times of the day, always with sides of hot beverage. I’ve hung out, read books, written letters with coffee or tea close by.  But I don’t believe I’ve ever just said:

“Let’s meet for coffee (or tea)!”


It’s been a couple of years since I started collecting and using my first “nice” crockery. That first one: vintage fine bone china in cobalt blue and gold inlay; an Old Royal from England (est 1846), made in the 1950’s. I’ve been collecting (and using) quite a few more since then, not one of them the least bit rare or expensive, to be honest. Nonetheless, they’re all special to me. Apart from telling stories about where I got each of them from, they’ve also become constant reminders of the ceremony of daily life– “the grand and the granular, both” (as a wise friend once put it).

We should all be so lucky as to have the time to pause and simply sit down to a hot beverage. And if we are, that just warrants a tiny celebration of gratitude, doesn’t it?



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To Open Sea

Dearest ______,

It’s been (literally) years since I last wrote you. I guess when the swell of life tugs you in- even at its most regularised chaos- it’s still just that, chaotic. Beautiful, ugly, quiet, loud, fast, slow: life has been an onslaught of various waves.  Rest assured, it’s been mostly great, my friend. But amidst all that whirl, I might have forgotten how it is to sit down and just write to you.  I hope you’re still there, buoyed to whatever we have between me here and you there. Wherever that is.dsc_0151

But I’m still here.  And now, I’m writing.

Before I get into the minutiae of the past couple of years though (or not, let’s see how this goes), I guess the most pertinent thing would be that we’ve just turned a new year today.


A lot has been going on around the world these past few years, and it might just be easiest to assume that the coming tide is something that resembles what it’s like going out unto open sea.

I know people who work and stay on boats for long stretches of time. And I hear it gets really lonely sometimes. Even then, despite already knowing the destination, it’s hard enough to get one’s mind to stay on course. Obviously the future in general- 2017– might be harder to navigate.

But we always get there, don’t we?dsc_0127

I myself have launched my own “expedition unto open seas”. Unchartered personal territories (a voyage in as much inwards as out) that might very well test the inner Captain Ahab in me.

But let’s talk about that another time. dsc_0122

For now, I hope we all find what we’re looking for out there. Or in here.


I remain your faithful friend always,



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time in space

Dearest ______,

Call it occupational hazard, but I’ve actually learned how to measure time using an acute sense of space.

Space, as in the physical dimensions of height, width, depth; Space, as in pillows and beds and things strewn about particular stretches of days, months, years in one’s life.

1 Space 1.0
A bunch of white orchids in an empty bottle of rum. By way of a little more than these two things, learning to make one’s head (board) constantly occupied.
May 2007-August 2007

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holy moly holi!

Dearest ______,

First of all, don’t even start asking me what the Indians’ Holi Festival is all about.

I was with a huge group of Indian friends at one of the Holi celebrations in Singapore over the weekend and apart from acceptable midday drink- binging and the sheer happiness of throwing coloured powder and water at friends (more so, strangers), they weren’t so sure themselves.

And so under these limited grounds, we went.



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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013)

Dearest ______,

We’d just gotten back to Cape Town from a two- day Internet and TV- free stay at the Karoo, when I read my phone messages at the hotel. One that was cryptic enough from a colleague all the way in Singapore saying:
“You go all the way there and he dies?!”
“Who died?!”, I asked.


Unbeknownst to us happily trailing animals at a remote wildlife reserve, South Africa’s beloved Tata Madiba (literally Father Madiba, in his native Xhosa name)- Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nelson Mandela to the rest world- had died at 95 in his home in Johannesburg.



It was like holding one’s breath underwater in a public swimming pool: when you stay underwater long enough, you lose sense of what is going on above the surface. And when you bob up after a few minutes, you realize that you’ve shifted elsewhere in the swimming pool and that the whole place has obviously changed. After confirming Mandela’s death on the television, we were suddenly walking along streets where things had obviously changed.


Continue reading “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013)”

keeping up with the eameses

Dearest ______,

Some of the most critical and guarded people can be found inside creative circles.

While creative people are generally perceived as insouciant and open- minded, most of those I’ve personally observed in my lifetime (designers, artists, writers, musicians, etc) tend to be more selective of the people they associate with or admire, than the average (admittedly less talented) lot.



Continue reading “keeping up with the eameses”