Old drinks, new skins

Nestea in plastic cups in Darjeeling
Modern Times in Darjeeling: Bag of imported Darjeeling tea in a plastic cup.

On the tea stands glasses and earthen pots are more and more replaced by plastic cups. The tea wallah explains the advantages: Less breakage, less costly and less work. Glasses are multi-use, but have to be polished – and water for the tea stand mostly has to be fetched in a canister. This will be filled with drinking water at a near-by well and then carted to the stand. The earthen pots are simply dumped after use. “The nice terracotta bowls” I had thought the first few times. But it is unburned clay, multi-use is unhygienic. 100 earthen pots cost 20 Rupees. But there is breakage, not all of them reach the tea stand in proper condition. The plastic cups are easier to pile, 100 pieces cost ten Rupees and after use they are as well simply thrown away. The earthen cup manufacturers – entire villages live of its production – will hopefully keep up their countenance about the triumph of the mass product. In most cases my tea comes in two piled cups. Either the cups are not solid enough or the tea is too hot for one cup. I’ll need a cuppa to cross-calculate that.


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