At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Monday, January 14, 2013


What's utterly essential is the tea tray. One should always have a well-set tea-tray awaiting one when one comes home, or arranged somewhere near the desk or bookcases. Perhaps to the right of the computer.
I wish everyone knew this.

When I was a teenager in Valkenswaard, during summer I would take my tea-tray out to the courtyard, and spend many happy hours reading with a pot of tea, my own special cup and saucer (blue and white porcelain), a glass of water, and the various smokers requisites. Assam or Lapsang Souchong, Kipling, Saki, or Nabokov, and a tin of Balkan tobacco for the pipe.
And, often, one of the cats.

Unlike my high-school classmates and various other human associates, the cats did not object to the fragrance of fine tobacco, and seemed to actually like it.
Felines are clearly superior beings.
One can only look forward to the day when they reveal themselves.
As our brilliant alien overlords.

At Fweebink (my affectionate nickname for the computer company at which I worked from 1993 to 1997) I had a somewhat larger tea-tray. Two large ceramic pots, plus various mugs, spoons, and creamers. There were four other people there who liked a spot of tea during the day. Very civilised.

During the years that I worked at the Indian restaurant I kept a lacquer tray with a canister of tea and a celadon pot in the wine cabinet, which I would pull out and charge-up during my evening shifts. The beer cabinet on top of which the pens, receipts, and calculator lived, kept blasting hot air straight into my kneecaps, and consequently I would've been heat-prostrate and dehydrated without the help of tea. Yes, there is tea at Indian restaurants, but it's masala chai.
Not really what's required.


Aj kaun chai benaiha-hai? Who made the tea today?
Voh badbuwalli untni? That foul-smelling she-camel?
Toh mera yeh nahi pinahoga. Then I will not drink it.

The foul-smelling she-camel insisted that no one else knew how to prepare masala chai (black tea, green cardamom, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick, water, sugar, milk), and daily threw out the perfectly excellent chai made by Jaghir. Hah, stupid Panjabi, what does HE know about tea? Nearly as little as the gaura!

Throughout the years a number of other women who worked at the Indian place also insisted that neither Panjabis nor gaura-log knew anything about making tea.
One hesitated to drink anything that they had brewed.

I miss Jaghir. The last time I saw him was in the mid-nineties, before he went on vacation for two months. When he came back, it was discovered at Kennedy Airport that he had not one but over a dozen passports with him, not all of them with his name, though every document had his handsome photo in the front.
Last I heard he had opened an American Restaurant in Jullundur.
A very capable gentleman, our Jaghir.
Good chai.

At the company that got sold back in November, where I worked for over twelve years, there were several handsome mugs on my credenza, in between tins of tobacco and various canisters. I drank between four and eight cups of black or jasmine per day.
A man has to stay hydrated, don't you know.
Counting beans is serious business.

The ideal tea-tray has a teapot, a special cup & saucer, and a tin of pipe tobacco. Even if you're a non-smoker. The pipe tobacco lends an air of gentility and old fashioned attitude to the entire thing. Think of it as an olla podrida.
Non-smokers can open it occasionally and smell the fragrant tobacco within (Rattrays is always a good choice), and fondly remember an uncle or an aunt who liked a pipe in late afternoon. Perhaps while reading the San Francisco Examiner, back when it was still a real newspaper with a large number of scribblers and a crime reporter.

Crimes haven't disappeared since then. But the Examiner is now less than a shadow of itself. The Chronicle is somewhat better, but newspapers are no longer what they used to be. Hardly anyone reads nowadays in any case.
There's still tea. Black tea. And pipe tobacco.
Both are far better than Starbucks.
Much healthier, too.

If you spent all morning working or studying, you will want to talk a walk sometime between noon and one o'clock, just to get the circulation going again.

The tea-tray will be waiting for you when you return.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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  • At 10:26 AM, Anonymous admiringly amphibious said…

    "Assam or Lapsang Souchong, Kipling, Saki, or Nabokov, and a tin of Balkan tobacco for the pipe.
    And, often, one of the cats."

    How the heck were you able to balance a tea tray with a cat on it?

  • At 12:11 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    I am very talented.
    That's how.


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