Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Until next time, Neil..

I haven’t met anyone that was so passionate about life as Neil was. He spread energy and joy wherever he went. Be it a shop owner, a friend, the postman or just someone who lived in the vicinity, there is no one who hasn’t been impacted by his energy. Neil loved everyone and everything. The places he had been to, the food that he ate & liked.. Neil loved to explore new things, especially food and places. He loved being in the outdoors and almost everyone who had met him once remembered him fondly.

Neil and I met through our common friend Mona, who met him first on a social networking site known as hi5, that existed years ago, in 2004-2005. We exchanged messages on it, and were fascinated with how he described all of Parel in text, right from a small Aarey outlet, to the old buildings and hospitals, all upto Matunga where he went to school at Don Bosco. Such was his memory. Neil could tell you stories about every place. He could tell you where names of things came from, or where the patterns of grills or foothpath tiles came from. “It is all geometry”, he used to say. 
Slowly, he entered our lives and found a place almost immediately in our families. It was like we knew him for ages. Everyone in our building knew him, right from grandparents to grandkids. Such was Neil, made people feel welcome and comfortable, joked with both the young & old and never discriminated. He valued friendship immensely and loved making people feel special on their birthdays and anniversaries and well, every day.
Neil’s idea to surprise my parents with a cake on their anniversary!!

Neil and my mom fooling around at Mona’s wedding

In the local when Neil came to drop us home
Neil always brought either sweets (that he himself loved to gobble up with us :P) or snacks each time he came to visit, so I remember once in December 2016, when he came home and his health was deteriorating, he couldn’t even walk straight but was very apologetic instead that he wasn’t able to bring anything that time. That was him, always putting others before himself, even in pain.
When he got Pictionary at my place and got mom to play it too! :)

I confided in Neil with many of my own issues but often didn’t require to say much. Neil always spoke the right things, not just because he listened, but because he could feel. He wasn’t one to sympathise but empathise instead, a quality that very few possess in this time. The days I didn’t say much, even a phone call that comprised of mundane conversation uplifted me and filled me with energy enough to get through my pain. And that is what baffles me, that the energy he contained wasn’t enough for him to get through his own fight. But then again, I also feel that we should seek warmth and comfort in the knowledge that he may be finally in the right place now, for a heart like his couldn’t find a place here on earth.

Until next time, please rest in peace Neil. We are all always with you ❤

Monday, July 3, 2017

Tea Culture of the World: Chamomile and Kashmiri Kahwa

Those of you who know me or even follow me on social platforms are well acquainted with my love for tea and trying out different kinds of it. Though my personal favourite will always be the milky masala chai, I always like to experiment with exotic teas and savour them on days when I feel like soothing my nerves down and indulging myself at the same time :) Also, this monsoon calls out for hot beverages, and so this tea box from Tea Culture of the World arrived just in time :)

First of all, I was wowed with the box and the colours overall, the box also has a pleasant scent when you open it, I am guessing it is the wood. Anyway, I was having quite a rough day and so, I thought of trying out the Chamomile tea, aware of its stress relieving properties! 

I liked the feel of the tea bag too, silky tea bags look so classy! Also you can properly see the dried flower petals and other parts of the flower in this one, and so I could judge the quality of the tea from this.

As my guess was, once brewed, the tea turned out to be quite pure, it went down smoothly and left a sweet aftertaste, something I look for in most teas. I made a mistake of brewing it a bit too much though (5 minutes would have been enough), and it ended up slightly bitter. I will brew it as per the instructions given behind.

My excitement got the better of me that day and I skipped looking at the back of the packet!! Next time, I will know better. I also plan to try it with lemon grass next, for a variety in flavour :)

Next, I was in the mood for something desi, with spices and the like, and I carefully selected the Kashmiri Kahwa tea from this collection.

Like I guessed, the tea bag had a lot of fresh spices in it along with some black leaves, that I am guessing were Kahwa leaves.

I brewed it as per the instructions given at the back, and I am so glad I did that!!

The result was a wonderful brew of Kahwa with subtle sweetness of almonds. I was quite surprised with the almond taste as I couldn't spot almonds in the tea bag, nor was there any mention of it on the packet, but I am sure there was something! My mom said it was the taste of cinnamon that mixed with the other spices to give the palate that flavour. Anyway, I sure liked it and look forward to having it again. 

There are six more teas that I can't wait to try: Oolong, Darjeeling, Imperial White, Earl Grey, Rooibos and Sencha. I may have a mini tea party at home to try these, as it would be more fun that way! Shall share my experience soon!