Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Are Books Your Cup of Tea?

"There are a few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."
~Henry James

Confession: Take a perfectly good afternoon (evening, morning, or combine them all), mix in a great mystery, stir in some Darjeeling leaves, and waa-laa it's a recipe for pure bliss.

Lately, I've found myself totally engrossed in books on the topic of tea. I wonder why? Could it be my ridiculous obsession with Teavana? Or, is it my ongoing love affair with literature? Perhaps a combination? humm...I'll ponder that...

If, as a child, you adored Miss Nancy Drew and her sidekick, Bess, half as much as I did, than I'm quite certain you'll find sincere enjoyment in The Tea Shop Mysteries, a series of books by Laura Childs.

So far, I've been unable to stop myself. I imagine my new infatuation is akin to the 'high' drug addicts experience after taking that first hit of a potent substance.

I've already made best friends with the characters and secretly want to be Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, South Carolina. Her southern hospitality and graceful charm combined with intelligence and self-confidence fuse together to place her high on my list of people to be reincarnated as.

Although the books are easy to read and offer no significant insight into character analysis or theme, they are indeed entertaining.

On the other hand, as much as I enjoy an easy beach-chair read, I also believe it's important to read pieces that will help me learn and grow as a person. Have you read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson? Please do. It will change your life.

Of course, it's no big secret that I'm extremely passionate about the topic of education. I believe all children can learn and ....ok... this is not going to turn into my plan to fix our crumbling educational system here in America.

As I was reading the book I was speechless... I'll leave you with some passages that truly touched my heart.

"After their familiar breakfast of chapattis and cha, Haji Ali led Mortenson up a steep path to a vast open ledge eight hundred feet above the Braldu. The view was exquisite, with the ice giants of the upper Baltoro razored into the blue far above Korphe's gray rock walls. But Mortenson wasn't admiring the scenery. He was appalled to see eighty-two children, seventy-eight boys, and the four girls who had the pluck to join them, kneeling on the frosty ground, in the open. Haji Ali, avoiding Mortenson's eyes, said the village had no school, and the Pakistani government didn't provide a teacher. A teacher cost the equivalent of one dollar a day, he explained, which was more than the village could afford. So they shared a teacher with the neighboring village of Munjung, and he taught in Korphe three days a week. The rest of the time, the children were left alone to practice the lessons he left behind."

"And it was obvious that most of the money that reached this altitude was earmarked for the army, to finance its costly standoff with Indian forces along the Siachen Glacier. But a dollar a day for a teacher, Mortenson fumed, how could a government, even one as impoverished as Pakistan's, not provide that?"

"After the last note of the anthem had faded, the children sat in a neat circle and began copying their multiplication tables. Most scratched in the dirt with sticks they'd brought along for that purpose."

"Can you imagine a fourth-grade class in America, alone, without a teacher, sitting there quietly and working on their lessons? I felt like my heart was being torn out. There was a fierceness in their desire to learn, despite how mightily everything was stacked against them, that reminded me of Christa. I knew I had to do something."

May I suggest you make yourself a little cup of tea and visit this place. I promise it will get your gears turning.

Before I go, take a peek at this conversation between Sir Edmund Hillary and Urkien Sherpa.

"Tell us, if there were one thing we could do for your village, what would it be?"

"With all respect, Sahib, you have little to teach us in strength and toughness. And we don't envy your restless spirits. Perhaps we are happier than you? But we would like our children to go to school. Of all the things you have, learning is the one we desire most for our children."


Greta said...

Teary eyed. A dollar a day. I think I could pay that for them. Geez! Not sure I'm ready for that one but it sounds phenomenal. I would like to do some more reading though. Thanks for the preview. :)

Maria said...

Thanks for your blog. Because of you, I am the second Mitford book!, with the first tea mystery on my night stand.

I will have to pick up Three Cups of tea. Is it as sad as the Kite runner? I don't like sad but I found the excerpts you posted very interesting.

Thanks for your comments on my simple blog. I appreciate that you enjoy them.

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