MIDWAY: Common question

Have you had your tea?” I look out of the window and my neighbour asks me. I take a walk down the street and the barber at the end of the street poses the same question. So does the snoopy aunt living across the street and the familiar uncle in the neighbourhood. I pondered over the question and was filled with some sort of satisfaction.

It may not be a big deal to some but, for many Nepalis, this is the way to start and end one’s conversation. You go to a late night party and have no idea what to say to the aunty and uncle sitting across the table. You do not mention the weather or the ongoing Maoist conflict; you simply ask them if they have had their tea. And in return, you are asked the same question. This question has become synonymous with a hello and sometimes even a smart way of saying goodbye. You can even pose this question to your mother or even the pretty girl you want to go on a date with. The phrase is probably the most commonly used in Nepali dialect. And it’s being passed on from one generation to another like a torch that refuses to go out.

In many ways this reflects the quality of life we Nepalis lead. Though our society may not be very advanced, yet it does matter to us if the other person has had tea or not. And on many occasions, the question is followed by an honest invitation to a meal.

The way people open themselves to outsiders is quite amazing. This trend has been passed on to me and my four-year-old brother who invites our milkman for a cup of tea every morning.

I have often heard foreigners complaining about Nepalis pestering them with questions like these and giving unwanted advice on things like recipes and relationships. I say to these people, this is who we actually are and known for. It may be considered rude to

want to know if you are married or not and how much your house in America costs but this is the way we Nepalis are. It’s either get to know a person inside out or not at all.

So the next time someone asks you if you have had your tea, make sure you take a moment to answer back. Believe me it does not take long. But these short moments are full of life, and you should live each moment to the fullest.