There’s no garam chai available on this train.
The bestie mentions this aloud and the young officer sharing our cabin of four makes a call. “Garam chai at the next station. Yes. Two cups.”
A shared background steeped in life spent in the forces is such an immediate adhesive. It is a bonding hard to describe.
We tell him he shouldn’t bother about the chai.
He says it’s nothing.
And offers us mithais for breakfast. They are from back home. Pure desi ghee.
In the train with arid shrubs and dusty plains rushing by, he talks of artisans and weavers and where to source interesting traditional ware and what to see in the back of beyond.
The train starts before we’ve been served chai. We urge the chai bearer to get off. He refuses.”Madam, I will get off at the next stop. You must enjoy the chai”
The bestie and I look at each other and smile. This will bea memory of unexpected gifts:
Two Borosil glasses all steamed up against windowpanes that look out to vast expanses of sand.
One thermos pouring steaming hot chai.