In the car, we pulled off the dusty, crowded streets, through a high gate (complete with gate keeper to record license plates) and all of a sudden we were in a world of green and white. The tall block like buildings, with matching white pillars was to the right of the paved drive (not dirt!) tall green trees, grass, shrugs. And the glimpses of a glittering swimming pool too? We pulled up to the entrance, and each door was opened by someone in a neat, swanky uniform. The short man who opened mine pressed his white gloved palms together and smiled with a welcoming word. Flabbergasted me opted for silence, and after a brief expression which involved my jaw clanking on the marble floor, I gave a grateful “thank you…I’m sorry I have no clue what to do” smile. I guess it worked. Kate said that a smile or a nod is more than usual…just acknowledging an appreciation is fine. Yeah, like I felt that was sufficient *que eye roll* really wish I understood what was going on at the time, but that's pretty uncommon for me currently. Through the metal detector (as is routine here) and two sets of doors which were opened on both sides be uniformed people, down a marble, brightly lit hallways, and into the atrium.
The atrium was narrow with skylights put in the top so it was filled with soft natural light. A fountain trickled (not splashed) in the middle. Chairs were wicker with big soft pillows (which were practically useless with my applied proper posture. Who knew I slouched so much eh? ) tables were the same but with white linen underneath a thick glass top. A man in a dark uniform approached us, taking our order for what kind of tea we wanted.
Served on a silver platter that had tea cup, saucer, plate. Three pronged little fork, spoon for stirring, and a little knife. Then..came the three tiered plates! (One for each of us!) the bottom level had three different small sandwiches ( raw salmon one, a basil, cheese, and tomato second, and a croissant with turkey and such on it) The next plate up had desserts! Chocolate/coffee Au clair! A rich, flakey crust and cream layered one. and (the best?!) fruit tart!! Oh, and a little square of chocolate! The top , smallest plate, had a little scone on it with a two small containers of jam (strawberry or marmalade) and a little container of cream (like a butter, not sweet). So you cut the scone (which is circular and plain, not triangle and filled with odd dry flavors like in the U.S) in half then on each side put some strawberry and the cream together.
During the forever we were there for I lost count after 4 cups of tea. In my defense…they were small cups!!!! And it was REALLY GOOD. I know by the end of finals it was like, pick the blackest, strongest tea you can find…dunk it in the hottest water you can get your hands on. If there is sugar available…stir that in. and drink until it is cold, or you fall asleep on your friends floor. (finish in the morning when coffee is brewing)
I tried Kashimiri Kawa, A light colored tea, but very flavorful! Nilgiri, a black tea. Also, Darjeeling first flush, which also had a surprising amount of flavor, and was also good, the town Darjeeling is just a day’s train ride away from here (not that I looked into it or anything). Perhaps the tea tasted so exceptional because it is brewed “just so” unlike the tea bag or two I’m used to letting marinate in the water for a while.
Tea here is taken usually with milk (here, it is steamed milk so it hot). And a bowl of sugar lumps (not perfect cubes) were in the middle. The sugar lumps were made with large white crystals. Or brown sugar (which is amazing..all the time)
A very sweet. Very culturally caffeinated. Very delightful. Very cool and CLEAN afternoon! Not to mention all the waiters hovering by the table, and the silent swishing of doors opened before you… with my Dupatta fluttering over my shoulders… I felt like I could be a Princess. (even without the Tierra). Except, you know, that I was terrified of what would happen if I slipped, tripped, or something standard to my existence.
Quiet evening. Napped. And zonked beneath the blessed ceiling fans and the air conditioner blasting at a seemingly cool 27/28 degrees Celsius. (so like 80-85 F). It's about perspective really.