We are constantly amazed by the people that we meet and the stories that we hear in the Tea House and through the events we take part in. For us, the connecting people over tea is important, whether it is a Gaiwan in the Teahouse or a sample cup in a field. We learn a great deal from these conversations. Recently we exhibited at the British Family Fayre in Kent, and it was here where I, Rob, was introduced to another great story concerning tea.
This particular story was recounted by a very interesting gentleman who I could have talked to for a long time. Unfortunately I did not get his name, but if he is reading this then thank you!
He told me all about a man called Satish Kumar who is a former monk and long-term peace and environment activist. In this case ‘long term’ means over fifty years as he was just nine when he left his family home to join the wandering Jains. At eighteen he started campaigning for land reform in India and working to turn Gandhi’s vision of a renewed India and a peaceful world into reality.
Inspired in his early twenties by the example of the British peace activist Bertrand Russell, Satish embarked on an 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage together with E.P. Menon. Carrying no money and depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers, they walked from India to the four capitals of the nuclear world. They firstly went to Moscow, then on to London, Paris and finally Washington D.C.
It was on the initial walk to Moscow where they met two women outside a tea factory. After explaining what they were doing one of the women gave them four packets of tea, one to be delivered to each of the leaders of the four nuclear powers. The simple thinking behind each gift was the message, "When you think you need to press the button, stop for a minute and have a fresh cup of tea". This further inspired their journey and became in part the reason for it. They did eventually deliver their ‘peace tea' to each leader. The journey is chronicled in Kumar's book ‘No Destination’.
Satish has lived in the United Kingdom since 1973 when he took up the post of editor of Resurgence magazine. He is still in this position making him the UK’s longest-serving editor. During this time, he has been the guiding spirit behind a number of now internationally-respected ecological and educational ventures including Schumacher College in South Devon where he is still a Visiting Fellow. You can read his story in his words in this interesting blog
I will leave you to form your own opinions on what you read. For me, I would quite possibly not have heard this simple yet immensely powerful tale had it not been for a meeting in a field in Kent. It’s amazing what you learn when you sit down over a cup of fine tea.