Would you spend Rs 30,800 on half a kilo of tealeaves?
To explore the fate of China’s legendary tea during the economic crisis, I left my neighbourhood dotted with coffeeshops, to trawl a little-known street lined with wholesale suppliers of tealeaves plucked on faraway mountaintops in China. Read more
It is Sunday morning and I want to fly 1,907 km away just for breakfast.
At 8 am, it is too early for the Indian restaurants in Beijing to open. But as I write this, Indians are walking into a restaurant to order the typical Maharashtrian fare of poha, upma and the sweet semolina pudding called shira. In China! Some of them will eat vada pav (spicy potato cutlet in a bun). In China! Read more
It’s not easy to order a meal while the restaurant staff, dressed like China’s once-feared Red Guards, can’t stop shouting ‘long live chairman Mao!’
On an overcast evening, I entered a red star-shaped doorway on the far edge of Beijing. Read more
An American editor often told me that she had lost her street smarts in low-crime-rate Beijing. That’s what Beijing is doing to me too, a Mumbai girl who used to clutch the cell phone in readiness to jab friends on emergency speed dials during late night commutes and even while unlocking the suburban apartment after work. After a night-out in Mumbai, friends wouldn’t sleep until I sent the mandatory I’m-home SMS.
Over one year in Beijing, nobody has harassed me while I walked streets that look like a movie set, waited for taxis on lonely, dark sidewalks, or ate alone in a recession-hit empty restaurant. Read more
I staggered to answer the doorbell on the second persistent ring. Through sleepy jetlagged eyes I saw a blurry bunch of my favourite gerbera flowers thrust in my face before the door was half open. A ‘welcome back’ whoop thudded down the walls of the long corridor outside.
It was the Labour Day weekend and an official public holiday in China when even taxi drivers disappear from the streets. “Nihao,” I said, happy to see my Chinese ayi or housekeeper who goes by the name Xiao Jie or Little Sister. Read more