Friday, September 15, 2006

More Customs

Each time we go to visit one of our ANA counterparts, they serve a tea called “chai” and one piece of wrapped candy placed on the teacup saucer. Sometimes they’ll bring out a little glass candy dish, you know the kind, divided into a couple different sections, filled with raisins, dried chickpeas and wrapped candy. The raisins are from green grapes. They appear to be homemade as quite a few will still have a small piece of stem on them. The chick peas are yellow peas that are dried. They have the consistency of sawdust and not much more flavor. I don’t get the allure of them but then I didn’t grow up eating them.

Chai is made from a tea leaf, not an herbal tea like I originally thought. Merrill and I don’t drink it, explaining that our religion teaches us not to partake of certain beverages. So far it hasn’t led to a discussion of religion, but I’m hoping that it might open the door a little sometime, somewhere.

Each time we’ve been served our host has always had a “serving boy.” I think they’re the equivalent of a private or other junior officer but they’re very efficient. They’ll come in quietly, place the tea and snacks down and then leave. After about 20 minutes, he’ll come back and refreshen the cup and the snack tray if it’s been eaten down very much.

It’s pretty cool.

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