Chai and Stories

Chai and stories go hand in hand where I come from. When you sit down with friends or family it is often with a cup of chai and it often leads to stories. Same thing if you are at a chai stall with strangers. Stories might start with the newspaper and then on to other things…

I came up with the Chai and Stories class because so many people tell me they don’t have stories—that they are not writers. And I find it difficult to explain to them that the two are not connected. Everybody has stories to tell. But nobody has the time. But people will stop when I offer them chai…


My cup of chai, as drawn by my son on a Mother’s Day card in Kindergarten. It came with the question: Why do you drink chai when other moms drink coffee? It led to a poem, and a little book too.

So I had my first Chai with Sush at the Alexandria Black History Museum on July 20 where patrons joined me and Nina Tisara, founder of Living Legends of Alexandria, for chai and a story-writing and book-making workshop. The workshop is one of a series of programs sponsored by Family Legends, an activity of Living Legends of Alexandria. The chai, I was told, was not bad, and then the stories started flowing. Stories about summer trips to the beach, lost towns near New Orleans as found in family histories, and mothers who are terrified of roaches! Then there was the story one woman has heard her grandma tell often—of how she, when she was three years old, woke up in the middle of the night, got dressed, and went out of the building to play at the playground. A neighbor heard the squeaky swing, found her, and brought her back home!

I walked by the playground near where my daughter was going for summer camp and thought what I would do if I heard squeaking swings at night. I would NOT leave my bed!

But I am glad to say, the stories flowed easily. I showed the participants how to make a quick book in which they could write the story and gift it to someone. One person told me she was an artist but had never thought of writing a story and making it into a book. She was going to make many, she said.

Hope I get to read them too!

Chai, the quick and easy way:
Boil water with a few pods of cardamom in it. Soak teabags of black tea in it, approximately 1 teabag per big cup of tea. Take it off the heat. Add warm milk to get the rich brown color, and add sugar to taste. That’s it! Make some, invite some friends over, and share stories! Enjoy!!


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