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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Fisk

Let’s have some “chai”

Having “chai” (tea) and snacks is a way of life here. It could be an isolated event (like my “English Club” I’ve started….another blog on that later), or it could be at every meal. This is not as much a coffee culture, although there are LOTS of coffee shops across the city (NOW… only 10 years ago they were almost non existent), they are predominantly a tea culture. The above picture is what is common when you have people over not centered around a meal. We actually make tea and put out snacks when workers come into our flat as a kind gesture as well. My favorite is the “pecheyneeye”, basically cookies (aka biscuits from British cultures). I love dipping them in my tea. There always needs to be candy. Candy is a cultural sign of “wealth”, like you can provide for your guests. There are endless and endless types of candies at the grocery stores. At the bigger stores there are many bulk options to go and just grab a few of each and put that out. I also try to do various things. Also, fruit. Fruit is more of a big deal for after a meal and you have tea, you put fruit out (and official dessert if you have it). When we go out to restaurants with friends (and sometimes on our own), there is sure to be tea at the end of the meal. Avinelle has already started to enjoy tea, too! Mostly milk and not too much tea, hah, and when we’re home we give her berry tea that is full of antioxidants with nothing else added. One thing we learned (I learned it slowly of course 🙄), is if you are the host, you are supposed to pour the tea for your guests. I can’t tell how many times I have forgotten and just done my good ‘ole “help yourself” and ya… cultural blunder there 🤦🏻‍♀️ Thankfully by now I have remedied that and actually pour tea for my guests now! You also tend to have to offer snacks like 2 or 3 times before people typically take something. I’ve started piling food on plates and putting it in front of them, because if I have snacks out, I REALLY want my guests to have them hah! So all in all, this tea culture is a reminder to me that it is a very relational culture, not so much task-oriented. A lot of meetings and events, even business, have tea and snacks. Even Andrew leads his greenhouse meetings with our staff centered around tea and snacks. It’s a good reminder to pause throughout our day and see how people are, and keep that connectedness, not always task-oriented, which I am prone to be. 😉

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