A game of golf, a lunch meeting or drinks after work are great ways of breaking the ice, building a network and sounding out business partners. But tea – that age-old, ever-present, inconspicuous beverage of the Indian office – comes with no diplomacy, only an invitation for connection. To an Indian, “ek chai ho jaye?” has the capacity to disarm opposition, to turn rivalry into camaraderie, to form collegial relationships in a way that strategic team-building and morale-boosting interventions never can. Shared cups of tea nurture bonds that no official meeting could but that every official milestone will benefit from.
With milk or without, black or green, Assam strong or Nilgiri smooth, sugary sweet or chamomile scented, brewed ‘dhaba-style’ or lightly infused with lemongrass, gulped from a mug or sipped from a cup, there is a tea for every kind of person in the office. Tea is a companion to many a champion of the workplace – first thing at the desk after braving rush-hour traffic, in the break between meetings, after a disappointing appraisal, late into the night in pursuit of a deadline or simply celebrating the ticking off of a sticky item on the To-Do list.
Tea becomes whatever you need, whenever you need it. It can lift your spirits. It can also calm your nerves. You could pick a tea that wakes you up for a few more hours at work or one that sets you up to relax on your way home. On a hot day or a rainy one, whether the air-conditioning is turned on too high or too low, whether your desk is in line of the draft or a tad too far away from it, there’s always tea to the rescue.
So the next time you’re at your desk with that special cuppa, savour the moment with your tea. Stop and notice its warmth, its colour, its smell and its taste. Smile. Wave across the room. Strike up a conversation. Or simply close your eyes, breathe and take another sip. Then jump back into work and power on. Until your next cuppa tea!
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