Sunday, July 03, 2005

Tea Story

Arthur Dent had set out from his cabin in search of a cup of tea. It was not a quest he embarked upon with a great deal of optimism, because he knew that the only source of hot drinks on the entire ship was a benighted piece of equipment produced by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. It was called a Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer, and he had encountered it before.
It claimed to produce the widest possible range of drinks personally matched to the tastes and metabolism of whoever cared to use it. When put to the test, however, it invariably produced a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
He attempted to reason with the thing."Tea," he said.
"Share and Enjoy," the machine replied and provided him with yet another cup of the sickly liquid.
He threw it away.
Share and enjoy," the machine repeated and provided him with another one
Arthur threw away a sixth cup of the liquid.
"Will that be all?"
"No," he said, "look, it's very, very simple ... all I want ... is a cup of tea. You are going to make one for me. Keep quiet and listen."
And he sat. He told the Nutri-Matic about India, he told it about China, he told it about Ceylon. He told it about broad leaves drying in the sun. He told it about silver teapots. He told it about summer afternoons on the lawn. He told it about putting in the milk before the tea so it wouldn't get scalded. He even told it (briefly) about the history of the East India Company.
"So that's it, is it?" said the Nutri-Matic when he had finished.
"Yes," said Arthur, "that is what I want."
"You want the taste of dried leaves boiled in water?"
"Er, yes. With milk."
"Squirted out of a cow?"
"Well, in a manner of speaking I suppose ..."
"I'm going to need some help with this one," said the machine tersely.
Douglas Adams. THE HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Chapter 2.


Blogger TimG said...

This reminds me of tea incomprehension we've come across in Mexico, "So what is this tea for?" people ask as we serve them a lovely mug of Earl Grey.
"What do you mean, what is it for? "
"Well is is good for an upset stomach or gall-bladder problems, or some other malady?"
"No, it's for enjoying."
And they look at us oddly, confirming in their minds that we really are alians.

10:14 AM  

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