The winters in England can be brutishly cold, the winds serrated as like a dagger’s edge that is poised to slice through the slightest bit of skin it can see, and that is why it becomes extremely important that You ensure that when venturing outside You are wrapped up warm and in many layers so that You do not succumb to a nasty bout of frostbite. It is one of those horrid conditions that sends a pandemonium of panic into the victim affected which is understandable since as the skin changes colour and the sensation of touch diminishes away, one is forced to think of the worst. Limbs, without warning, fated to drop off due to poor or no blood circulation. Yikes!
But the savage sting and gnash of the freezing air did hardly made any headway in arresting our playful ways on that memorable day at the humble German markets, set up specifically in Winchester as part of the glittering festivities for Christmas time. Now, You must note that I cannot tolerate hours of shopping like my friend can, it bores and tires me out within minutes, unless of course the map to be navigated includes a few charming bookshops on route wherein I can indulge my ever voluptuous imagination to be drawn to scintillating synopses of new books! That sort of shopping is, as we Brits say, right up my street!
On the other hand, I have always found a cute charm in the little wooden cabins that pop up round by the Cathedral grounds at Christmas, they are a pleasure to explore on foot and I can spend a whole day gazing admiringly at the numerous splendidly handcrafted goods on offer. Typically, the enchanting array includes such wondrous things as like heavily aromatic wreathes of dried satsuma the colour of rustic autumnal leaves, beeswax candles that tempt the mind to eat them, and glass lanterns bejewelled in a mosaic of glass and mirror pieces. The whole place, once only grassy and watched on by the hushful walls of the Cathedral, suddenly transforms itself into an Aladdin’s cave, only that there is no canopy of a roof, and thus the many markets nestled with their intriguing trinkets are laid bare as much to eager-eyed collectors as to the swarming breath of icy winds. To shop here is not a luxury, it is an brave expedition to the Arctic and You were bound to return with something much more than You bargained for!
Now imagine how madly excited I must have seemed when out of all the many things that were seductively competing for our attentions my eyes should magnetically lock onto a bulky wooden barrel and atop rested two glass jars filled with teabags, sugar and tiny sachets of milk. Though no map accompanied us, I could have sworn the exhilaration of my discovery was on par to that monumental moment when the bearer of the map finds themselves precisely on top of the point marked X! I had not set off to accrue treasure, but yet before us lay the basic molecules of tea preparation and hence, quite rightly, I went bonkers and, though I am no gymnast, my shoulders felt like initiating into a series wonky somersaults, a wobbly roly-poly, and a shaky cartwheel, just to top it off! Ask any friend of mine and they will quite heartily submit a testimony on Your request that tea really does do it for me! Giggle, giggle! If I could I would stash every variety of loose leaf tea in my buccaneering satchel before gallivanting off to the ice-clad North Pole, or trekking through the moist jungles of Peru, just so that I could enjoy that peace of mind that irrespective of where my shrivelled-up shoes cared to careen me, there would always be by my side that most beautiful reminder of the warm and cosy world of my home, that will indeed always be my home, wherever I trot and whoever I become.
“Samka, let us imagine that we had the power to share out this delicious tea to the world!” Cheery and bright-eyed, I elegantly gestured to my friend to take the helm of the stall and pretend that she was indeed an all-benevolent dispenser of warm and sweet cups of tea. From the corner of my eye I glimpsed at the soothing hiss of steam that rose from the cups held tightly by people who had purchased one earlier, and I could interpret in their faces that it made the world a livelier place, manageable and simple and slow, when in possession of such a fine milky molten concoction of leaves!
“Let’s do it!” She did not think twice about it, only that like a happy kangaroo she jumped behind the barrel and the next minute I know there she was, impersonating to be the most kindly tea lady in the world! Without my cue, she unclipped the levers of the glass jars and lifted them as if to say to the cold and weary traveller that he or she had come to the right place and that here we may not make You rich or guarantee You safe passage, however, we have something else and it will help You because when we make this tea we make it with all the Love that we have glowing inside the warm glove of our hearts.
Naturally, members of the public giggled at our little stunt but we are so used to pulling theatrical displays wherever we go that it became a pleasing sight to witness that nothing of ours goes to waste! Our antics will be remembered because they made people smile and, I do hope most of all, that whoever did smile will have remembered that worries can be made to go away and a fat smile can come to stay, if there is someone who will put the kettle on and ask, “How many sugars did You say?” ♥♥♥
Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016
Photography: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2014