I would have happily called it 'chai pe charcha', if not for the phrase's recent history as a political cracker right up there alongside Marie Antoinette's citation of other teatime items like cakes and breads.
So let's just call it a 10-minute digression over a styrofoam cup. I had to wait for a bus and had sauntered over to the stall at the depot. The dispenser of the sweet syrupy tea was an overly talkative fellow and it wasn't easy not to be drawn into a dialogue.
"Sirji," the man began as he adroitly handled two boiling kettles, a primus stove, a tin of sugar, a pouch of milk and a stone slab on which he crushed ginger for the tea, "so Modiji has come to power."
"Yes," I responded carefully, "people yearned for change, and Modiji was a strong alternative."
"So, sir, you tell me, will things improve now?" he asked, as he raised the kettle high in the air and poured a steaming stream into the cup.
"Well," I ventured. "Free market forces will be happy with Modiji in power."
"Oh," he said, as he handed me the cup. "Free market, huh, sir? That's good news. With rising prices, we did need some free things urgently for mere survival."
"It's not exactly getting things for free …" I said, then decided that getting into an Economics 101 lecture at a bus depot tea stall wouldn't get me anywhere. "But everyone is hoping the government will now do things that will help our economy and help check some worries, like the current account deficit…"
"Really?" he cut in excitedly. "In all the speeches of Modiji, and yes, I listened to a lot of them on TV, I never heard him promise a cut in current accounts. Only that Aam Aadmi Party fellow had promised to do that. This is really good. Free stuff plus a cut in current bills." His eyes were gleaming.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a cup of tea (top). Supporters of Narendra Modi's holding tea cups.
Text: Business Standard