On a solo soul searching trip to Sri Lanka, I discovered this beautiful four-house mountain town called Ella. It was quaint and surreal almost, with the prettiest train station I had ever seen. It was a rosy sweet winter and there was a tactile crispness to the air. I had found the perfect little guesthouse over looking the mountain range.
The pathways were winding and steep and enveloped with tall greens and a sly wetness. Just down the road from my guest house at the corner of the road was this tiny little teashop. Equipped with my diary and a book, I made my way to it to sit and write and see the ambling walkers go by. I had resigned myself to a hot milk laden hard boiled ‘chai’ glass with the excuse that the sweet sugary drink will dull the chill of the winter. I was in for a very pleasant surprise.
As I sat there in the tiny corner of the shop, this beautiful teapot was put in front of me. It was brimming with the most perfectly steeped Sri Lankan single estate tea, with cold milk on the side. If my smile could have been any wider it would have burst out of my face. I was in heaven!
As if that wasn’t enough I also got a freshly baked slice of teacake along with it. I sipped my tea or rather copious amounts of it through the day, feeling light and refreshingly warm and cherishing every sip. I wrote a six-page letter and read some. I quietly eavesdropped on inane conversations of the locals and was thrilled to half understand them. I smiled at the inquiring gazes of the locals seeing a single Indian girl amidst the bustle. I exchanged stories with fellow travellers and watched the sunset.
I spent the next three days in this very spot glued to the chair and some incredible samplings of tea. Little had I realized, this tiny tea shop was surrounded by tea estates. Some of the best tea grew around and I was sitting in the middle of it. Those fragrant robust tea leaves, just made this little town even more special. Every time in the last ten years I have thought of it, it always brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart.
This #SlowStory from our founder, Bhagyashree's expedition to Sri Lanka eventually became the heart of Paper Boat Collective. The emotions that you feel after reading this story is exactly what our experience-led store tries to convey.