In every average Indian household, no morning is a good morning unless it starts with a steaming cup of tea, or ‘chai’ as we call it. People are known to get into heated arguments over the ‘best’ brand of tea available-Darjeeling, Assam or just the chai from the neighbourhood shack. No matter what the preference, tea is an integral part to our everyday existence. It is from this intrinsic love for tea that Sriparna got the idea for her blog, ‘Travelling Teadom.’
Travelling had always been important in Sriparna’s life. Family trips aside, it was a trekking experience with her sister to Ladakh when she was 16 that Sriparna found herself falling in love with new places and the unique rhythm of life each place resounded with. “I love the mountains. I like visiting remote places to break away from the usual cacophony of cities.” Sriparna started travelling a lot during her college days and it is during one such trip, again to Ladakh around 2009-10, that she started thinking about ways of combining her two interests-travelling and tea. As Sriparna says, “Wherever you go, the cuppa changes.” It was like this that Travelling Teadom was born, where Sriparna has carefully archived all her travels, narrating it through pictures of the many kinds of tea she has come across.
Since its inception, however, the blog has undergone a substantial change. “There are processes involved”, Sriparna says while speaking about her journey as a travel blogger/tea lover, “Earlier, the frame of the landscape forming the background of the cup I was going to click didn’t matter. Slowly, it changed. It is a highly creative process. Now, I am not satisfied with just any random photo of a cup.” Indeed, her aim is to convey the essence of the tea itself through the photo.
Asked about her favourite brand of tea, Sriparna struggles to shortlist just one. “However, I did love the saunf tea I had in Himachal Pradesh!” she recounts. Hailing from a Bengali family, Sriparna was introduced quite early in life to tea and kinds of tea leaves by her mother, who as she fondly recalls, swore by the quality of Darjeeling tea.
The question that came to my mind while speaking to her, however, hinged on the difficulties of travelling so extensively. “The idea is to practice sustainable travelling. One way to reduce cost is to travel in buses and trains. I absolutely love trains so that was never a problem,” she went on, “If you reduce cost of travelling, you can spend much more on experiencing the place itself. Sustainability also involves planning your trips in a way in which the environment is not affected in any way.”
Her blog bears testimony of how she views travel. Speaking of one of her trips to Kareri Village, she writes, “It was March, it was mustard season, it wasn’t the time to snow. I guess this is how they say travel broadens your horizons.”
Her recent inclination is to know more about tea leaves and the whole process involved in tea production. “I have just started learning about the various kinds of tea leaves and find it fascinating.” While in Palampur, she found time to do a kind of micro-workshop on tea with one of the tea pickers there. “She ran me through the steps and I promised to go back and do the whole thing at its pace. In the photo is Anu’s hand and she is holding the top three leaves picked from the bush behind.”
Sriparna confessed to love coffee as much as she loves tea, consuming equal amounts of both. Using a quote from ‘The Elegance of Hedgehog” on one of her blog posts, Sriparna wished to convey how she actually experiences both travel and tea, “When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”
Through her blog ‘Travelling Teadom’ then, she wishes to make her readers taste the spirit of travel and the many cups she has on the way as she truly believes that travel is absolutely essential to one’s being. And what better way to compliment it than with tea!
All images from Travelling Teadom