Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Morning Train, 4 AM

The alarm rang at 3:45 and I got up almost immediately, pretending I was Ravi, for whom such unearthly risings are second nature. I had copied his night-before rituals, too: clothes neatly laid out in the bathroom, bags packed and standing by the door, ticket in my purse in an easy-to-find spot, phone all charged.

But my usual last-minute flurrying  happened anyway. You can only pretend to be someone else so long. 3:45 is still too early for me to function well and even though I had tucked my ticket in my purse myself, I panicked at the last moment and searched fruitlessly for it in my computer bag. My thyroid pills! Toilet paper for the train! And that ticket! Where was it again?

But in amidst all the scurrying back and forth from the kitchen to the bedroom, I made myself a cup of tea and sat down gratefully to drink it, in honor of a Russian custom which I love: apparently, in Russia, everyone travels the way I do. Total chaos with the entire family racing madly in all directions, shouting instructions to each other which no one pays the slightest attention to, while luggage piles up in teetering stacks, only to be opened again to shove in some forgotten item.

Then suddenly, on some private family signal, everyone sits down together for a moment of calm and repose. They pause, breathe, and sip a bit of tea. Then they all leap up again and continue hurtling about as if that moment of quiet and reflection had never happened.

But it had. And it did. I'm on the train now and that sweet pause in my preparations is with me even now as the train hurtles forward, intent on getting us to Delhi. I sit by my large window, gazing out at the sun rising over the crest of hills we are leaving behind and feeling lucky to be here, however sleepy, grateful that I slowed down even for two minutes to drink the tea, to take the photo, to find a quiet pocket in the morning, to remember.


MichaelRosenkrantz said...

Great Jo!

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thanks, Mike. Are you still in the US? I've been enjoying all your photos.

ana @ i made it so said...

i love the ritual of tea. and i really how you described that ritual where the family pauses, as if on cue. and i'm like you, i take inspiration from people wherever i can manage -- ravi seems to have quite the routine!

and, is that your teapot? is it missing the little lid knobby? i think i like you that much more just now :)

(you reminded me of an old post i wrote, a guest post, about tea. if you have a moment to read.)

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Ana, so sweet that you noticed the little missing knobby! I still have it, and one day I shall buy the super glue and try once again to repair it.

I LOVED your tea post! Left a comment on Thursday's site, too.

My Mom was a Brit and she instilled the tea addiction in most of us. Now my daughter carries it on in Jane Austen style - she has the sweetest tea parties with her college friends. Such a comfort, such a lovely afternoon ritual.

ana @ i made it so said...

how sweet jo. i'm fascinated and endeared by traditions as they are passed down from one generation to the next.

off to visit thursday's site :)