Life’s Simple Tales: Piping Hot Tea…on a Scorching Summer Afternoon

Sounds funny, doesn’t it? A cold bottle of soft drink must sound more sensible.

It was a peak summer afternoon. I was travelling from Allahabad to Kanpur. I frequently had to visit Allahabad to pursue our case at the High Court.

But that day, on reaching there, I came to know that the court was closed to condole the death of an advocate. Our case was postponed to a later date. So there was no option but to turn back. On reaching the station, I took the very first train available. That was a passenger train which stopped at every station. That meant, a halt at every 10-15 kilometres.

As the train moved out under the furious sun, the mercury inside the general coach started shooting up. The window glasses were up to allow the (hot)air inside the over-crowded coach. I was already perspiring in streams. My throat would parch every now and then and I would take a few gulps from my water bottle. Soon the bottle itself went dry. I had hoped to pick a water bottle from some station on the way, but since our coach always stopped after crossing the entire platform, there won’t be any vendor in sight. I fervently wished we reached a full-sized platform soon. Fatehpur was about 120 kms. from Allahabd. The uneasy feeling within was growing as I found myself getting closer to dehydration.

Through all the intense torture, we somehow arrived at Fatehpur station, but sadly, still no water outlet in sight. Suddenly, I heard a tea-vendor carrying a brass can with burning coal at the bottom to keep the contents piping hot. I intuitively called at him and asked for a kulhar (earthen glass) of tea. As I was paying him, the train moved. I started taking small sips, rather disinterestedly.

A few sips later, I was amazed. I had started feeling better. The uneasy feeling had gradually started decreasing, I wondered why? But yes, piping hot tea seemed to help in some mysterious way. The remaining one hour passed in much relief and I reached Kanpur in a virtually normal condition.

But, the mystery remained unsolved in my mind. How did the approaching dehydration take a U-turn? Later on, I figured out: Continuous perspiration expels water content and crucial salts from the body. Blood flowing inside the veins starts getting thicker, coagulated, and its movement within, strained. That starts sending out danger signals – the uneasy feeling in the gut. If that condition continues longer, dehydration gets more acute and alongwith other symptoms, like frequent vomiting and loose motions, can even prove fatal. The tea I sipped actually worked to compensate for the water, glucose (sugar) and many other elements (present in milk). That inadvertently came as a life savor for me… on that peak summer afternoon, in the scorching railway coach.

  * * * * * *

  # Ashok Misra

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