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18 March 2015 / leggypeggy

No leopards, no sloth bears, but a fantastic cup of chai

water jug and pottery cups

Pottery cups waiting to be used—with a pot of water in the background

India and Africa are teeming with wildlife, but they aren’t zoos.

You might drive into the wilderness with promises of seeing all manner of wild beasts—but don’t count on it.

We’ve usually been lucky on our safari drives, but we’ve certainly had a few disappointments. Bagheera Camp in Rajasthan was one. Apparently sloth bears came through the camp in the night when we were sleeping. Leopards spent the next morning hiding from us.

The place we stayed after Bagheera Camp said don’t tell anyone you didn’t see a leopard. You must be the first group ever not to see a leopard.

You can imagine that had to make us feel bad—and short-changed—but the reality is there are never any guarantees when it comes to wildlife.

We’ve been in the mangroves of the Sundarbans these last few days (more about them soon) and had the extremely rare pleasure of seeing a tiger. Only a glimpse, but it was still a tiger.


A couple of peacocks enjoying a misty morning

The area around Bagheera Camp is supposed to be teeming with leopards and sloth bears, but we saw only a few peacocks and a lot of rocky outcrops.

In an effort to console us, our hostess took us to the best tea/chai shop she knew. It still didn’t quite make up for not seeing a leopard (we still haven’t seen one on this trip) but it was a fantastic cup of chai—and in the middle of nowhere.

The chai maker has quite a system going with a small fire surrounded by a metal shield to keep out the wind. He cranks a small handle to operate small bellows (I presume) to keep the fire going. When the chai is cooked/steeped/brewed, it is strained through a small sieve and transferred to another pan for dispensing.

pouring chai

A big pot for dispensing lots of chai

The brew is served in small conical-shaped pottery cups that are usually smashed when the drink is finished. I couldn’t bring myself to smash mine, so it is tucked away in my backpack with one sock inside it and another sock cushioning it from the outside.

I’ll let you know if it makes it home. NEWS FLASH: The little cup made it home. Yay!

But back to the chai itself. It was probably the nicest one I’ve had in India—and I’ve had lots. We’ve had one or two a day for more than 40 days. Our hostess says the chai maker has some secrets. He adds local herbs, and she says he can make a chai to perk you up or calm you down. I wonder which one we got?

P.S. We finally saw sloth bears in Barnawapara, but are still hanging out to see a leopard.

P.P.S. Bagheera is the black panther in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

P.P.P.S. We also got to see some local women coming to the communal well to gather water. When you have water flowing freely from taps in your home, it’s very sobering to see what some people have to do to get water.

collecting water, India

Village women gather at the communal well for water


Leave a Comment
  1. Curious to the Max / Mar 18 2015 5:58 am

    Peggy, sorry you were disappointed in not seeing any critters. However, I was not disappointed in the least by your post. How people in other parts of the world live and work is as interesting to me as pictures of animals in the wild.


    • leggypeggy / Mar 18 2015 10:48 am

      I agree completely. Plus we always try to find the good things about every stop. Then there’s no disappointment.


  2. Sy S. / Mar 18 2015 8:33 am

    I second “Curious to the Max’s” comments that people are just as interesting and their life styles.
    Second, the small Chai cups and the bottom are not flat but cone shaped, so I guess can not be but down but held in the right hand.


    • leggypeggy / Mar 18 2015 10:49 am

      They hold just a couple of sips, so need to put them down. Some of these little cups do have flat bottoms. I’ll get a pic.


  3. susan@marsha'sbungalow / Mar 18 2015 12:21 pm

    I guess that’s why we have domesticated animals – they come out and play for the camera. (well, not mine, maybe, but she is horribly misbehaving)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Midwestern Plant Girl / Mar 18 2015 1:32 pm

    Good luck on your clay treasure transport!


  5. hiMe / Mar 29 2015 12:54 pm

    What a waste of smashing chai cups! I dream of tasting the chai of India according to your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 30 2019 10:24 pm

      Oh dear, hiMe, I can’t believe I missed replying to this comment. So sorry. At least the broken cups are cycled into new cups.


  6. The Year I Touched My Toes / Aug 30 2019 9:23 pm

    I remember their little clay cups and buying cups of chai which you would drink and throw the unfired clay cup on the platform to be reconstituted into another clay cup. Do they still do this ? I was there last in 1984. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 30 2019 10:25 pm

      They still do this; at least they did when we last visited in 2017. I cheated and brought me cup home.

      Liked by 1 person

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