26 July 2014

The chai seller, Manali

Old Manali clings to the mountainside above the main town and is the preferred option for many visitors. It has an abundance of cafes and restaurants, with the expense of their offerings correlated mostly with how hip they try to be and, as far as my limited experience goes, not at all correlated with the quality (although, to be fair, most is at least good). If, for example, you want good chai, go to somewhere like this: a stall that sits between Old and New Manali. It's a shack made of tin, buckled plywood and grime, with a corrugated iron roof.  I stopped in on a walk back from the new town a couple of days ago, hoping for an aloo paratha, but had arrived too late in the day.
  'Only chai,' the man said.
Only chai was fine with me. I sat in the dark interior with one other customer, an Indian man absorbed in his phone, and drank only chai and watched the passers-by. Afterwards, I paid the 10 rupees for the chai (less than NZ 20 cents) and chatted briefly with the owner (with the cigarette) and his friend. I felt as if I were back in India.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor


Elephant's Child said...

Only chai indeed. With a great deal more flavour, for a fraction of the price charged for inspipid nastiness here.
And a fascinating owner very often as well.
Sometimes (often) I wonder at our assumptions of superiority.

Zhoen said...

The guy on the left looks like someone I know. A very familiar face. Not him, of course.

pohanginapete said...

EC, unfortunately, that attitude of superiority is still evident among some of the visitors here in Manali. It manifests not so much overtly but in a kind of condescending attitude.

Zhoen, I'm pretty sure it's not him ... ;^)