A tea-vendor poured tea in six small glasses in a manner which told that he had been doing it for a long time. He looked the kind of person who would help the visitors find their way around, with an aid of clear illustrative hand directions-a skill that someone hones when he has snugged the tendrils of winters in the area, drenched in its unseasonal rains and sweated facing its sweltering heat wave. He would be knowing the local people around, often greeting them as they told their stories. Being an ear to them, when they wanted to vent out their workplace problems. Being an advisor to them, when they would want need one. He would be knowing people by eyes, smiles, voices, stories, names, and the sugar in their teas.
His life happened as clockwork. A glance up from his boiling tea and the world was a familiar story with a set of new actors. A swarm of cycle rickshaws eased their way through the mad rush of the road. A young couple blushed: reddened cheeks, gaudy clothes and eyes that tried to escape the sight of any familiar face in the crowd. A papad hawker tried to overpower the voice of the other papad hawker, with a one-liner pitch that evoked amusement. A scooter whirred, carrying a four member family on its old shoulders. A bunch of noisy school kids laughed on their way back home. Street-dogs stood outside the chicken shop, setting sight on the bones like an eagle looming on its prey, ready to swoop down at the right moment. A bunch of men sized up women at the bus-stand, their intentions no different than the dogs.
The tea vendor knew them all. The people kept changing. The story, like the taste of his tea, remained constant.