I am an avid tea drinker. Not that I drink gallons of it, just that I cherish each sip. A well brewed cup of tea (and that rules out any tea made by a machine) can do wonders to my mood. I can get almost intoxicated.
And tea has led to many a memorable conversation with family, friends, and strangers. Once in a while, it plays a larger role and a whole friendship is built around it. That is what happened between me and The Patels who live on the floor above. Keta and Baiju Patel had moved to Raleigh a few weeks before I did and they immediately welcomed me into their lives. Baiju is an avid tea person. And Keta is almost a no tea person and yet her tea is worth every moment spent with the cup.
We would meet often for tea and talk. Recently, Keta went on an India trip for a marriage and during that six odd weeks, Baiju and I met almost every day for tea. Every day at 10 pm. It was something I would look forward to with enthusiasm. Our meeting would be short and yet packed with useful conversation. Baiju was here for a MS in Advanced Analytics and I was taking introductory courses in Statistics; so there was quite a lot of common ground for techie stuff to be discussed. Like today, Baiju educated me on “basket analysis”, something stores like Wal-mart and Family Dollar conduct to find the chain of products a particular shopper would buy. In very simple terms, which buyer will have what products (typically) in his/her shopping basket. And I led Baiju to some outdoor educational videos at REI. So, in that short 15-20 minutes, we had tea and came out better informed about something useful. And at the end of the meeting I would be refreshed and eager to get back to work. Tea plus conversation has that effect on me.
But, this is now coming to an end. The Patels are moving to Charlotte, where Baiju landed a job. I will miss the tea meetings terribly. And by the end of this summer, I will lose almost half of my closest friend circle at NC State. This makes me kind of sad. I take this opportunity to thank The Patels for opening the doors to their house and their hearts. I am wealthier having known you’ll. Bon voyage!