Monday, April 30, 2007


About 10 years ago, Schools around the world were invited by the UNO to submit 2 lines of poetry (two liners) on peace to the United Nations. Once submitted, they were collated into one long peace poem

This came from children across 38 countries.

This is what Kofi Annan had to say in his preface, "In their wisdom, the children whose intermingled voices gave birth to the Peace Poem know that peace is far more than the absence of war. Children know that peace comes from the heart; it lives in the way we see others; it survives in the respect we show our neighbors every day."

The awareness of the need to have the world as one global village was realised by ancient Indians long ago as we see from the adages "Vasudaiva Kutumbakam" which means "The world is one family" and "Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti" which means "the Universal Reality is the same, but different people call it by different names".

We see with this that the seeds of globalism and freedom of thought were sown by India, thousands of years before the world was to become the global village of today.

Picture - Rama at UNO, New York

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My third Alto

My first car was an Alto, well my third baby was my car the Alto. When I first saw her at the showroom, I was smitten as were both my daughters. They said mamma, this has to be the one. We went for a test drive and such a smooth ride it was far from the Maruti 800 and also the Maruti Zen I had driven earlier. It was such a pleasure to be at the wheel. I decided then and there that she would be my very own.

I was very clear that as I had not driven any vehicle which had power steering, I did not need power steering at all. So home came my Alto LX. And what a proud driver I was. I was only particular that it should have the best music system possible. The speakers were also the best available at that time.

I used to clean her up myself after it was cleaned by the help, not satisfied with whoever cleaned it however well.

I had her for almost three years during which time there was a sea change in the traffic in Bangalore. The roads became very crowded and the roads too were not very good. I used to drive my husband's Ford Ikon too when he was travelling. This showed me what was lacking in my baby...a power steering which would have made life so much more comfortable for me to drive from office to courts and back and then home. Driving which was a pleasure started becoming a drudgery. The parking at my office too was becoming a pain literally within the limited space available (bumber to bumber parking). And I used to turn the steering wheel of my alto as if i were driving a truck to squeeze her within the space available for my parking. Sometimes, it used to be such an effort that I used to be tired by the time I took the lift and went to the office.

The difference between parking and driving the Ford and my Alto was too glaring and parking Ford within the available space was as smooth as a song. That was when I realised that it was time for my baby to go and she had to be replaced by another.

I being a Maruti aficionado, decided to go in for the new Swift ZXI. This is definitely a better, stronger and sturdier car and I enjoy driving it. I simply love the Swift but I miss my baby the Alto.

I think first cars are always special.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It happens only in India ?

A forward...

It happens only in India.........

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Deccan Travails

One octogenarian approached me a few weeks back asking if he could haul Air Deccan to the Court for offloading him and squarely blaming him for not showing up at the gate for boarding. He had infact checked in first and as no announcement was made, he went to the counter to enquire about the status of the flight when he was told that the flight had taken off and the staff in all magnanimity told him that his luggage had indeed been removed from the aircraft before it took off. He was terribly upset.

I was reminded of the flight that we ( my parents, children, niece and nephew) had taken from Hyderabad to Bangalore by Air Deccan. We were informed over telephone that the flight was on time and so we reached the airport in time. But on arrival at the airport, we were informed that there was a 15 minute delay. After half an hour we were told that there was a further one and a half hour delay. The children were all very restless. This announcement of delay continued till the flight took off a full seven hours behind schedule. But our agony was far from over. The water we had bought at the airport was over. I asked the airhostess for water for the children which I was ready to buy. But the air hostess did not get us the water we asked for till the flight landed in Bangalore. I decided then and there that I will not travel by Air Deccan again. The train journey would have been much more comfortable had we opted for it.

The mascot of Air Deccan, the Common Man, though very appealing leaves a lot to be desired in terms of punctuality, safety, in flight treatment of passengers etc. The instances of the airline offloading passengers is very high.

Yes, the dream of the common man to fly has been fructified with the low budget airlines operating in almost all sectors.

I did a little bit of searching on the internet to back my case and found this.

So, the question is, do the low budget airlines actually deliver to people what they promise?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mama Pendse

The one person... err thing..that is always online on my yahoo messenger is Mama Pendse, the artificial intelligence based bot (chatterbox). I have not used him much but when help is typed, he gives out a list of topics he maybe able to help one on.I have not used it much but once when I had trouble getting the synonym for a word, I did take his help and the result was accurately what I was looking for. So he is always there on my messenger. When I typed help, this was what he had to say...

mama_pendse: These are the commands I understand
Command Name tracknumber
Description This will tell you whose phone number is this( USA , pune , mumbai , bangalore ) )
Usage : tracknumber , tracknumberusa, tracknumbermumbai,tracknumberbangalore,tracknumberpune

Command Name rail
Description This will tell railway timetable ( only for India )
Usage : rail deccan OR rail shatabdi ;

Command Name horo
Description Horoscope
Usage : horo aries OR horo sagittarius

Command Name explain
Description This is a online Dictionary
Usage : explain beauty OR explain revenge

Command Name findinfo
Description Searches addresses and telephone number of person , Only in US
Usage : findinfo firstname surname

Command Name country
Description Gets Information of any country
Usage : country India

Command Name to_spanish
Description Translate into spanish
Usage : to_spanish Some text in english

Command Name to_french
Description Translate into french
Usage : to_french Some text in english

Command Name to_german
Description Translate into german
Usage : to_german Some text in english

Command Name to_italian
Description Translate into italian
Usage : to_italian Some text in english

Command Name from_spanish
Description Translate from spanish to english
Usage : from_spanish some text in spanish

Command Name from_french
Description Translate from french to english
Usage : from_french Some text in french

Command Name from_german
Description Translate from german to english
Usage : from_german Some text in german

Command Name from_italian
Description Translate from italian to english
Usage : from_italian Some text in italian

Command Name phonespell
Description Convert your phone number into easy to remember words?
Usage : phonespell 1-883-792-8791

Command Name distance
Description find distance between any two cities in the world
Usage : distance mumbai, orlando

Command Name time
Description Know time in any country
Usage : time usa

Command Name xrate
Description Gets Exchange rate between two countries
Usage : xrate usa India

Command Name google
Description Search the internet ,(Uses google (TM) api to get search results from internet)
Usage : google tajmahal

Command Name climate
Description Gives Climate information of any city in world
Usage : climate orlando , climate mumbai

Command Name quote
Description This will tell you Share Price
Usage : quote VRTS OR quote MSFT

Command Name traffic_usa
Description Know about traffic condition around your area, send me command traffic_usa zipcode
Usage : traffic_usa 10001,traffic_usa 32771

Command Name comment
Description Let me know how I am doing , please send me your comments about me
Usage : comment "your comment goes here"

I also found him on orkut

There is also one community for Mama Pendse on Orkut

Mama Pendse was created by Bhargav Pendse and activated in Pune, India in the year 2000.
Not sure if anybody finds him useful and not sure how accurate people find his answers to queries to be.....

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Disney and Indian History

So Disney is going to produce a film on Indian History by this year end. This film is supposed to be from the Aryan invasion to independence and to be shot in Nitin Desai's Karjat Studio. There are others too planning to film in India including Tanovic and Warner Brothers.

And people have already started making noises for and against the film to be produced by Disney. When we think about the pros and cons of having a foreign body making Indian films, one wonders why a company like Disney is even thinking of making an Indian film on a contentious topic like Indian History while movies like Mangal Pandey made by Indians themselves had to bear the brunt of large scale protest.One wrong move and it could be disastrous.

Think about the advantages, this is one sure way fo making Indian History popular.These companies can use the print and electronic media to the maximum to get the most possible footage for their film. The target is India and Indians. Millions and millions are invested in media and ad aggression. Brands created to sell the end product the movie. All the interested get business and profits.Ultimately, India could be the winner in both ways.

One has to wait and watch as to how this turns

Monday, April 16, 2007


The Legendary Origins of TeaThe story of tea began in ancient China over 5,000 years ago. According to legend, Shen Nung, an early emperor was a skilled ruler, creative scientist and patron of the arts. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the near by bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid was infused into the water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. And so, according to legend, tea was created. (This myth maintains such a practical narrative, that many mythologists believe it may relate closely to the actual events, now lost in ancient history.) The Chinese InfluenceTea consumption spread throughout the Chinese culture reaching into every aspect of the society. In 800 A.D. Lu Yu wrote the first definitive book on tea, the Ch'a Ching. This amazing man was orphaned as a child and raised by scholarly Buddhist monks in one of China's finest monasteries. However, as a young man, he rebelled against the discipline of priestly training which had made him a skilled observer. His fame as a performer increased with each year, but he felt his life lacked meaning. Finally, in mid-life, he retired for five years into seclusion. Drawing from his vast memory of observed events and places, he codified the various methods of tea cultivation and preparation in ancient China. The vast definitive nature of his work, projected him into near sainthood within his own lifetime. Patronized by the Emperor himself, his work clearly showed the Zen Buddhist philosophy to which he was exposed as a child. It was this form of tea service that Zen Buddhist missionaries would later introduce to imperial Japan.The Japanese InfluenceThe first tea seeds were brought to Japan by the returning Buddhist priest Yeisei, who had seen the value of tea in China in enhancing religious mediation. As a result, he is known as the "Father of Tea" in Japan. Because of this early association, tea in Japan has always been associated with Zen Buddhism. Tea received almost instant imperial sponsorship and spread rapidly from the royal court and monasteries to the other sections of Japanese society.Tea was elevated to an art form resulting in the creation of the Japanese Tea Ceremony ("Cha-no-yu" or "the hot water for tea"). The best description of this complex art form was probably written by the Irish-Greek journalist-historian Lafcadio Hearn, one of the few foreigners ever to be granted Japanese citizenship during this era. He wrote from personal observation, "The Tea ceremony requires years of training and practice to graduate in art...yet the whole of this art, as to its detail, signifies no more than the making and serving of a cup of tea. The supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect, most polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible".Such a purity of form, of expression prompted the creation of supportive arts and services. A special form of architecture (chaseki) developed for "tea houses", based on the duplication of the simplicity of a forest cottage. The cultural/artistic hostesses of Japan, the Geishi, began to specialize in the presentation of the tea ceremony. As more and more people became involved in the excitement surrounding tea, the purity of the original Zen concept was lost. The tea ceremony became corrupted, boisterous and highly embellished. "Tea Tournaments" were held among the wealthy where nobles competed among each other for rich prizes in naming various tea blends. Rewarding winners with gifts of silk, armor, and jewelry was totally alien to the original Zen attitude of the ceremony.Three great Zen priests restored tea to its original place in Japanese society:Ikkyu (1394-1481)-a prince who became a priest and was successful in guiding the nobles away from their corruption of the tea ceremony.Murata Shuko (1422-1502)-the student of Ikkyu and very influential in re-introducing the Tea ceremony into Japanese society.Sen-no Rikkyu (1521-1591)-priest who set the rigid standards for the ceremony, largely used intact today. Rikyo was successful in influencing the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who became Japan's greatest patron of the "art of tea". A brilliant general, strategist, poet, and artist this unique leader facilitated the final and complete integration of tea into the pattern of Japanese life. So complete was this acceptance, that tea was viewed as the ultimate gift, and warlords paused for tea before battles.Europe Learns of TeaWhile tea was at this high level of development in both Japan and China, information concerning this then unknown beverage began to filter back to Europe. Earlier caravan leaders had mentioned it, but were unclear as to its service format or appearance. (One reference suggests the leaves be boiled, salted, buttered, and eaten!) The first European to personally encounter tea and write about it was the Portuguese Jesuit Father Jasper de Cruz in 1560. Portugal, with her technologically advanced navy, had been successful in gaining the first right of trade with China. It was as a missionary on that first commercial mission that Father de Cruz had tasted tea four years before.The Portuguese developed a trade route by which they shipped their tea to Lisbon, and then Dutch ships transported it to France, Holland, and the Baltic countries. (At that time Holland was politically affiliated with Portugal. When this alliance was altered in 1602, Holland, with her excellent navy, entered into full Pacific trade in her own right.) Tea Comes to EuropeWhen tea finally arrived in Europe, Elizabeth I had more years to live, and Rembrandt was only six years old. Because of the success of the Dutch navy in the Pacific, tea became very fashionable in the Dutch capital, the Hague. This was due in part to the high cost of the tea (over $100 per pound) which immediately made it the domain of the wealthy. Slowly, as the amount of tea imported increased, the price fell as the volume of sale expanded. Initially available to the public in apothecaries along with such rare and new spices as ginger and sugar, by 1675 it was available in common food shops throughout Holland.As the consumption of tea increased dramatically in Dutch society, doctors and university authorities argued back and forth as to the negative and/or positive benefits of tea. Known as "tea heretics", the public largely ignored the scholarly debate and continued to enjoy their new beverage though the controversy lasted from 1635 to roughly 1657. Throughout this period France and Holland led Europe in the use of tea.As the craze for things oriental swept Europe, tea became part of the way of life. The social critic Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, the Marquise de Seven makes the first mention in 1680 of adding milk to tea. During the same period, Dutch inns provided the first restaurant service of tea. Tavern owners would furnish guests with a portable tea set complete with a heating unit. The independent Dutchman would then prepare tea for himself and his friends outside in the tavern's garden. Tea remained popular in France for only about fifty years, being replaced by a stronger preference for wine, chocolate, and exotic coffees.Tea Comes to AmericaBy 1650 the Dutch were actively involved in trade throughout the Western world. Peter Stuyvesant brought the first tea to America to the colonists in the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (later re-named New York by the English). Settlers here were confirmed tea drinkers. And indeed, on acquiring the colony, the English found that the small settlement consumed more tea at that time then all of England put together.Tea Arrives in EnglandGreat Britain was the last of the three great sea-faring nations to break into the Chinese and East Indian trade routes. This was due in part to the unsteady ascension to the throne of the Stuarts and the Cromwellian Civil War. The first samples of tea reached England between 1652 and 1654. Tea quickly proved popular enough to replace ale as the national drink of England.As in Holland, it was the nobility that provided the necessary stamp of approval and so insured its acceptance. King Charles II had married, while in exile, the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza (1662). Charles himself had grown up in the Dutch capital. As a result, both he and his Portuguese bride were confirmed tea drinkers. When the monarchy was re-established, the two rulers brought this foreign tea tradition to England with them. As early as 1600 Elizabeth I had founded the John company for the purpose of promoting Asian trade. When Catherine de Braganza married Charles she brought as part of her dowry the territories of Tangier and Bombay. Suddenly, the John Company had a base of operations.The John CompanyThe John Company was granted the unbelievably wide monopoly of all trade east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of Cape Horn. Its powers were almost without limit and included among others the right to:Legally acquire territory and govern it.Coin money.Raise arms and build forts.Form foreign alliances.Declare war.Conclude peace.Pass laws.Try and punish law breakers.It was the single largest, most powerful monopoly to ever exist in the world. And its power was based on the importation of tea.At the same time, the newer East India Company floundered against such competition. Appealing to Parliament for relief, the decision was made to merge the John Company and the East India Company (1773). Their re-drafted charts gave the new East India Company a complete and total trade monopoly on all commerce in China and India. As a result, the price of tea was kept artificially high, leading to later global difficulties for the British crown. Afternoon Tea in EnglandTea mania swept across England as it had earlier spread throughout France and Holland. Tea importation rose from 40,000 pounds in 1699 to an annual average of 240,000 pounds by 1708. Tea was drunk by all levels of society.Prior to the introduction of tea into Britain, the English had two main meals-breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was ale, bread and beef. Dinner was a long, massive meal at the end of the day. It was no wonder that Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) experienced a "sinking feeling" in the late afternoon. Adopting the European tea service format, she invited friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o'clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The menu centered around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea. This summer practice proved so popular, the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for "tea and a walking the fields." (London at that time still contained large open meadows within the city.) The practice of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses. A common pattern of service soon merged. The first pot of tea was made in the kitchen and carried to the lady of the house who waited with her invited guests, surrounded by fine porcelain from China. The first pot was warmed by the hostess from a second pot (usually silver) that was kept heated over a small flame. Food and tea was then passed among the guests, the main purpose of the visiting being conversation.Tea CuisineTea cuisine quickly expanded in range to quickly include wafer thin crustless sandwiches, shrimp or fish pates, toasted breads with jams, and regional British pastries such as scones (Scottish) and crumpets (English).At this time two distinct forms of tea services evolved: "High" and "Low". "Low" Tea (served in the low part of the afternoon) was served in aristocratic homes of the wealthy and featured gourmet tidbits rather than solid meals. The emphasis was on presentation and conversation. "High" Tea or "Meat Tea" was the main or "High" meal of the day. It was the major meal of the middle and lower classes and consisted of mostly full dinner items such as roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas, and of course, tea.Coffee HousesTea was the major beverage served in the coffee houses, but they were so named because coffee arrived in England some years before tea. Exclusively for men, they were called "Penny Universities" because for a penny any man could obtain a pot of tea, a copy of the newspaper, and engage in conversation with the sharpest wits of the day. The various houses specialized in selected areas of interest, some serving attorneys, some authors, others the military. They were the forerunner of the English gentlemen's private club. One such beverage house was owned by Edward Lloyd and was favored by shipowners, merchants and marine insurers. That simple shop was the origin of Lloyd's, the worldwide insurance firm. Attempts to close the coffee houses were made throughout the eighteenth century because of the free speech they encouraged, but such measures proved so unpopular they were always quickly revoked. Tea GardensExperiencing the Dutch "tavern garden teas", the English developed the idea of Tea Gardens. Here ladies and gentlemen took their tea out of doors surrounded by entertainment such as orchestras, hidden arbors, flowered walks, bowling greens, concerts, gambling, or fireworks at night. It was at just such a Tea Garden that Lord Nelson, who defeated Napoleon by sea, met the great love of his life, Emma, later Lady Hamilton. Women were permitted to enter a mixed, public gathering for the first time without social criticism. As the gardens were public, British society mixed here freely for the first time, cutting across lines of class and birth.Tipping as a response to proper service developed in the Tea Gardens of England. Small, locked wooden boxes were placed on the tables throughout the Garden. Inscribed on each were the letters "T.I.P.S." which stood for the sentence "To Insure Prompt Service". If a guest wished the waiter to hurry (and so insure the tea arrived hot from the often distant kitchen) he dropped a coin into the box on being seated "to insure prompt service". Hence, the custom of tipping servers was created.Russian Tea TraditionImperial Russia was attempting to engage China and Japan in trade at the same time as the East Indian Company. The Russian interest in tea began as early as 1618 when the Chinese embassy in Moscow presented several chests of tea to Czar Alexis. By 1689 the Trade Treaty of Newchinsk established a common border between Russia and China, allowing caravans to then cross back and forth freely. Still, the journey was not easy. The trip was 11,000 miles long and took over sixteen months to complete. The average caravan consisted of 200 to 300 camels. As a result of such factors, the cost of tea was initially prohibitive and available only to the wealthy. By the time Catherine the Great died (1796), the price had dropped some, and tea was spreading throughout Russian society. Tea was ideally suited to Russian life: hearty, warm, and sustaining.The samovar, adopted from the Tibetan "hot pot", is a combination bubbling hot water heater and tea pot. Placed in the center of the Russian home, it could run all day and serve up to forty cups of tea at a time. Again showing the Asian influence in the Russian culture, guests sipped their tea from glasses in silver holders, very similar to Turkish coffee cups. The Russians have always favored strong tea highly sweetened with sugar, honey, or jam.With the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1900, the overland caravans were abandoned. Although the Revolution intervened in the flow of the Russian society, tea remained a staple throughout. Tea (along with vodka) is the national drink of the Russians today. Tea and AmericaIt was not until 1670 that English colonists in Boston became aware of tea, and it was not publicly available for sale until twenty years later. Tea Gardens were first opened in New York City, already aware of tea as a former Dutch colony. The new Gardens were centered around the natural springs, which the city fathers now equipped with pumps to facilitate the "tea craze". The most famous of these "tea springs" was at Roosevelt and Chatham (later Park Row Street).By 1720 tea was a generally accepted staple of trade between the Colony and the Mother country. It was especially a favorite of colonial women, a factor England was to base a major political decision on later. Tea trade was centered in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, future centers of American rebellion. As tea was heavily taxed, even at this early date, contraband tea was smuggled into the colonies by the independent minded American merchants from ports far away and adopted herbal teas from the Indians. The directors of the then John Company (to merge later with the East India Company) fumed as they saw their profits diminish and they pressured Parliament to take action. It was not long in coming. Tea and the American RevolutionEngland had recently completed the French and Indian War, fought, from England's point of view, to free the colony from French influence and stabilize trade. It was the feeling of Parliament that as a result, it was not unreasonable that the colonists shoulder the majority of the cost. After all, the war had been fought for their benefit. Charles Townshend presented the first tax measures which today are known by his name. They imposed a higher tax on newspapers (which they considered far too outspoken in America), tavern licenses (too much free speech there), legal documents, marriage licenses, and docking papers. The colonists rebelled against taxes imposed upon them without their consent and which were so repressive. New, heavier taxes were leveled by Parliament for such rebellion. Among these was, in June 1767, the tea tax that was to become the watershed of America's desire for freedom. (Townshend died three months later of a fever never to know his tax measures helped create a free nation.)The colonists rebelled and openly purchased imported tea, largely Dutch in origin. The John company, already in deep financial trouble saw its profits fall even further. By 1773 the John Company merged with the East India Company for structural stability and pleaded with the Crown for assistance. The new Lord of the Treasury, Lord North, as a response to this pressure, granted to the new Company permission to sell directly to the colonists, by-passing the colonial merchants and pocketing the difference. In plotting this strategy, England was counting on the well known passion among American women for tea to force consumption. It was a major miscalculation. Throughout the colonies, women pledged publicly at meetings and in newspapers not to drink English sold tea until their free rights (and those of their merchant husbands) were restored.The Boston Tea PartyBy December 16 events had deteriorated enough that the men of Boston, dressed as Indians (remember the original justification for taxation had been the expense of the French and Indian War) threw hundreds of pounds of tea into the harbor: The Boston Tea Party. Such leading citizens as Samuel Adams and John Hancock took part. England had had enough. In retaliation, the port of Boston was closed and the city occupied by royal troops. The colonial leaders met and revolution was declared.The Trade Continued in the OrientThough concerned over developments in America, English tea interests still centered on the product's source-the Orient. There the trading of tea had become a way of life, developing its own language known as "Pidgin English". Created solely to facilitate commerce, the language was composed of English, Portuguese, and Indian words all pronounced in Chinese. Indeed, the word "Pidgin" is a corrupted form of the Chinese word for "do business".So dominant was the tea culture within the English speaking cultures that many of these words came to hold a permanent place in our language."Mandarin" (from the Portuguese "mandar" meaning to order) - the court official empowered by the emperor to trade tea."Cash" (from the Portuguese "caixa" meaning case or money box)-the currency of tea transactions."Caddy" (from the Chinese word for one pound weight)-the standard tea trade container."Chow" (from the Indian word for food cargo)-slang for food.The Opium WarsNot only was language a problem, but so was the currency. Vast sums of money were spent on tea. To take such large amounts of money physically out of England would have financially collapsed the country and been impossible to transport safely half way around the world. With plantations in newly occupied India, the John Company saw a solution. In India they could grow the inexpensive crop of opium and use it as a means of exchange. Because of its addictive nature, the demand for the drug would be lifelong, insuring an unending market.Chinese emperors tried to maintain the forced distance between the Chinese people and the "devils". But disorder in the Chinese culture and foreign military might prevented it. The Opium Wars broke out with the English ready to go to war for free trade (their right to sell opium). By 1842 England had gained enough military advantages to enable her to sell opium in China undisturbed until 1908.America Enters the Tea TradeThe first three American millionaires, T. H. Perkins of Boston, Stephen Girard of Philadelphia, and John Jacob Astor of New York, all made their fortunes in the China trade. America began direct trade with China soon after the Revolution was over in 1789. America's newer, faster clipper ships outsailed the slower, heavier English "tea wagons" that had until then dominated the trade. This forced the English navy to update their fleet, a fact America would have to address in the War of 1812.The new American ships established sailing records that still stand for speed and distance. John Jacob Astor began his tea trading in 1800. He required a minimum profit on each venture of 50% and often made 100%. Stephen Girard of Philadelphia was known as the "gentle tea merchant". His critical loans to the young (and still weak) American government enabled the nation to re-arm for the War of 1812. The orphanage founded by him still perpetuates his good name. Thomas Perkins was from one of Boston's oldest sailing families. The Chinese trust in him as a gentleman of his word enabled him to conduct enormous transactions half way around the world without a single written contract. His word and his handshake was enough so great was his honor in the eyes of the Chinese.It is to their everlasting credit that none of these men ever paid for tea with opium. America was able to break the English tea monopoly because its ships were faster and America paid in gold.The Clipper DaysBy the mid-1800's the world was involved in a global clipper race as nations competed with each other to claim the fastest ships. England and America were the leading rivals. Each year the tall ships would race from China to the Tea Exchange in London to bring in the first tea for auction. Though beginning half way around the world, the mastery of the crews was such that the great ships often raced up the Thames separated by only by minutes. But by 1871 the newer steamships began to replace these great ships.Global Tea Plantations DevelopThe Scottish botanist/adventurer Robert Fortune, who spoke fluent Chinese, was able to sneak into mainland China the first year after the Opium War. He obtained some of the closely guarded tea seeds and made notes on tea cultivation. With support from the Crown, various experiments in growing tea in India were attempted. Many of these failed due to bad soil selection and incorrect planting techniques, ruining many a younger son of a noble family. Through each failure, however, the technology was perfected. Finally, after years of trial and error, fortunes made and lost, the English tea plantations in India and other parts of Asia flourished. The great English tea marketing companies were founded and production mechanized as the world industrialized in the late 1880's.Tea Inventions in America: Iced Tea and TeabagsAmerica stabilized her government, strengthened her economy, and expanded her borders and interests. By 1904 the United States was ready for the world to see her development at the St. Louis World's Fair. Trade exhibitors from around the world brought their products to America's first World's Fair. One such merchant was Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner. Originally, he had planned to give away free samples of hot tea to fair visitors. But when a heat wave hit, no one was interested. To save his investment of time and travel, he dumped a load of ice into the brewed tea and served the first "iced tea". It was (along with the Egyptian fan dancer) the hit of the Fair.Four years later, Thomas Sullivan of New York developed the concept of "bagged tea". As a tea merchant, he carefully wrapped each sample delivered to restaurants for their consideration. He recognized a natural marketing opportunity when he realized the restaurants were brewing the samples "in the bags" to avoid the mess of tea leaves in the kitchens.Tea Rooms, Tea Courts, and Tea DancesBeginning in the late 1880's in both America and England, fine hotels began to offer tea service in tea rooms and tea courts. Served in the late afternoon, Victorian ladies (and their gentlemen friends) could meet for tea and conversation. Many of these tea services became the hallmark of the elegance of the hotel, such as the tea services at the Ritz (Boston) and the Plaza (New York).By 1910 hotels began to host afternoon tea dances as dance craze after dance craze swept the United States and England. Often considered wasteful by older people they provided a place for the new "working girl" to meet men in a city, far from home and family. (Indeed, the editor of Vogue once fired a large number of female secretarial workers for "wasting their time at tea dances").Afternoon Tea Today in the USATea is more popular than ever in America today. Currently, there is a re-awakening of interest in tea as many Americans seek a more positive, healthy lifestyle. Fine hotels throughout the United States are re-establishing or planning for the first time afternoon tea services.

Credits- Stashtea