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Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo

“Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo” … “Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo” … “Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo”. I asked for a cup and as I took a sip, the repetitive chant by the vendor on the train flooded my mind with fond memories … a flashback of sorts. It was probably twenty years ago, I was accompanying my father on train trip to Calcutta. The Steel Express leaving the station amidst all the noise and commotion among the other travelers. I used to love sitting next to the window … the wind in my face … lush green fields rushing by. As the train chugged into Sardiha, a small hamlet before Kharagpur, the voice of an old man in a shrill voice, “Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo” … “Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo” … “Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo”. The words literally meant – “drink the worse than worse tea”. As a ten year old it was kind of weird for me to see someone selling something stating that it is bad. It amused me all the more to see everyone buying tea and enjoying the same as they took a sip from the bhads (earthen cups). Little did I understand that the old man had devised some sort of reverse psychology to sell his product. Curiosity got me and I coaxed my father to share a cup with me. The tea was indeed good. Probably the best I have had anywhere in a train. The old man does not sell tea anymore. I have not seen him in at least 5 years or so. His sons have taken over the business and you would notice them on trains between Jhargram and Kharagpur every day. The tea still tastes fine. Apparently the old man has a homemademasala which he uses to prepare tea. I guess the recipe will be passed down the generations to come. As I took another sip the young man moved on, as the old man did, “Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo” … “Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo” … “Kharab Se Kharab Chai Piyo”.