Allison Declercq-Matthäs, Contributor Ω
Citizens of Kamloops were welcomed to an introduction to the culture of chai, or tea, in India on March 10. The exhibit, Sipping Culture, hosted at the Commodore Grande Café and Lounge, encouraged attendees to explore the taste, sight, smell and social aspect of chai.
“Ask anyone in India. The tea stall is important,” said Christine Anderson, organizer of the exhibit.
A second-year graduate student in the master of arts, intercultural and international communication program at Royal Roads University in Victoria, Anderson created the exhibit as a school project. Featuring a visual display consisting of the photos she took in India, a mock Indian tea stall and the sound of Indian streets, attendees of the event were pulled right into the experience.
“I don’t see the tea stall going anywhere,” Anderson said.
After spending time in India and on the web researching how the people of India interact with chai, she put together Sipping Culture and asked Ankur Sud, an international Indian student to brew the chai for the event. Recruiting Fariaa Zaidi, a student from Pakistan, Sud was at the mock Indian tea stall stirring and pouring chai for all those who attended.
“I’m really pleased with the turnout,” Anderson said.
The exhibit saw 10 to 12 people at a time, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., which meant the crowd flowed well through the display and Anderson could answer all the questions. She moved from person to person, speaking of the social significance of chai, particularly in areas of illiteracy, as well as how chai is such a revenue generator the Indian government recognizes tea stalls as part of the economy. With the introduction of Starbucks in India in 2012, Anderson is interested in how the company will fare and how it will affect the local tea stalls.
Ankur Sud, an Indian tourism student, was asked by TRU World to help Anderson with her project by brewing the chai.
“They’ve had tea at my place a couple times,” he said. “They liked my tea.”
Jun Fu, a TRU student, enjoyed the familiar presence of chai.
“ We Chinese drink tea too,” he said at the exhibit. “I like to drink tea to talk to people.”
Fariaa Zaida, a TRU student from Pakistan, further illustrated the reach of chai when she was asked to assist Sud with making the chai.
“Some people need to drink chai everyday,” Zaida said. She is not one of those people, but she often makes chai for visitors.