December 18, 2017

Take the Time for Tea

By Julie Samrick

A funny thing happened to me yesterday.  As I dashed around, running to the store, buying birthday gifts and groceries, preparing for all the kids to be out of school for summer vacation starting today, I paused to take my 4 and 6 year olds to the park. There was another mom there who I’ve known for the past 4 years, but haven’t really “known.”  She is an Indian immigrant whose 2 children are the same ages as 2 of mine. 


As we small talked and watched our younger children play, I found her so open and warm, before I knew it we were talking about her background. She holds a PhD in Biology from India, for one thing, and I was fascinated to learn she and her family are vegan.  I asked her how she stays full and satisfied eating mainly legumes, fruits and vegetables. What do her kids like to eat?

She rises early to make Indian food every day.  Naan baked with cauliflower and other fresh vegetables are a staple in her kids’ lunches.  They like to snack on garbanzo beans- and not the kind from a can.


We dashed to get her son and my daughter off to their last regular day of kindergarten.  I offered them a ride the short distance to our school since she doesn’t drive. 


She opened her son’s lunch so I could see the Tupperware filled with delicious and nutritious food as we walked them in.  This reminded me to rush back and grab the bag of Cheezits from the Target bag in my trunk to add to my daughter’s lunchbox.  “Hey, whose Cheezits?” her son asked, in his American accent, when I flashed the orange red package quickly in the transfer, feeling somewhat sheepish.

I offered her a ride home after we dropped our kids, which she gladly accepted, saying she needed to start the evening meal, but not before she would enjoy her afternoon tea.


She invited my 4-year-old and me to join her for tea.  I declined right away, not used to being spur of the moment in the middle of the day, as the groceries, though not perishable, sat in the back of my car.  “Sure, why not,” I said, impressed that she’d have us with no preparation. 


She whipped up a pot of authentic chai tea and shared that day’s fresh samosas with us. 


We discussed her arranged marriage, our dreams for our children, and her amazing mother- who the very thought of brings on pangs of homesickness for my new friend, but also an irrepressible smile.  When seeing her daughter only once every 2 years, her mother insists she spend the first half of each trip back to India at her mother in law’s, even though the in-laws are a 9-hour drive from the airport and she, herself, is only 3 hours away.


I could have talked to her all day. I left refreshed, kicking myself for waiting until nearly the last day of school to get to know her, but glad to have taken the time to have tea with a neighbor, who I hope to now call my friend. 


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