As I sleepily open my eyes give the worse possible excuse of a welcome to the October month into my home, more accurately, my parents’ home, I can’t help but feel a deep, relentless, and morbidly unforgiving ache. Sleeping and rising to the blazing blue-light of my phone dispatching news of refugees suffering, school shootings, homelessness, and poverty porn – to name a few – opposed to the warmth of the sun and the solace of the moon, has robbed me of my normal self, and I’m positive I’m not the only one.
These occurrences embody none other than gravity, heavy, heavy gravity. It is less the gravity that keeps nature grounded and graciously allows mobile creatures to walk, than it is the gravity that your lungs so arduously fight in a feeble effort to breathe, that your heart so desperately attempts to circulate what little blood the world’s miseries have left you, and that your mind so melancholically attempts to negotiate with whatever higher power there may be, to please, please cease these god forsaken calamities.
Hello October. Woe-be-me. And you. And you too. Read news, blink, swallow that jagged boulder that has conveniently sought asylum in your larynx (pharynx?) shake off those bone-resonating chills, rinse tears, and repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat.
What can we do? What do we do? Is there a point in even acknowledging this misery and trying to make a change? The last question is – hopefully, blindingly, and obviously – rhetorical.
This is what you can do:
- DONATE to KickStarter’s First Ever Charity Campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/aidrefugees
- This campaign aims to raise money for the United Nations Refugee Agency. HELP KickStarter reach their goals, while touching lives and seeing your dollar go much further than it ever has before.
What you can do internationally:
- Donate to organizations such as:
- United Nations Refugee Agency
- Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières
- International Red Cross
- Save the Children
- The International Rescue Committee
- Migrant Offshore Aid Station
- Refugees Welcome
- The Worldwide Tribe in Calais
- Small Projects Istanbul
- Karam Foundation
- Hand in Hand for Syria
- Sign petitions fighting to make a difference for the underprivileged. Research a few relevant petitions to your country/state and you’ll be surprised at the power of a pencil or in this case, an electronic signature.
- Volunteer at: Soup Kitchens, homeless shelters, county clinics, any organization where help is needed.
- Collect clothing, food, toiletries and other necessities to donate to a local organization which provides for refugees, migrants, and the homeless in your area
Everyday Things You Can Do!
- Aim to support fair trade companies that donate a portion of their profits to organizations that aim to reduce poverty (such as the IRC, UNICEF, etc.)
- Clearly Kombucha– a San Francisco startup that I had the surreal pleasure of working at, they donate a portion of their proceeds to the IRC!
- Gathering Place Trading Company – a spice company.
- Chocolate companies such as Alter Eco, Theo, Sweet Riot, Rescue Chocolate, Equal Exchange,Chocolate, Evolla, and more.
- Looking to buy new food, clothing, beauty products, and more?
- Just do a quick Google search including the desired product, plus “fair trade, donates profits.” It’s truly heartening to see how many ethical products are out there.
And while you smoothen those shard-like pebbles underneath your skin – goosebumps – and blink, and see, actually see, give your loved ones the firmest, most love-communicating hug and slowly, but surely comfort your soul-deprived interior with a cup or a few, of this spicy, yet soothing, and to an extent, life-instilling Butter-Toasted Spicy Masala chai. Fuel for your efforts, tonic for your heartache, and kindling to fire your drive to ignite meaningful change.
Spicy Masala Chai Mix:
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp whole green cardamom pods
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- about 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 4 – 4 inch sticks of cinnamon, or 2 tbsp of ground cinnamon (the sticks make ALL the difference; if using, hammer into smaller piece prior to grinding)
- 2 whole star anises
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
* When possible, opt for the whole variation of the spices. The difference in aroma between the freshly ground spices, versus those that were pre-powdered is a world of difference. If you’re looking for a chai to re-instill all of the energy the calamities of the world habitually zap out of you, then I urge you, with all of my understanding of this sentiment, to please use the whole spices.
*Also, if you’re short on spices, I strongly recommend that you replenish your stock from a company that engages in fair trade practices and also donates a portion of their proceeds, such as Gathering Place Trading Company.
- Add all of the spices to either a high-powered blender, OR a coffee grinder (and grind the spices in several batches.) Do not grind the mix until it is powder-fine. Instead, aim for a course powder with visible bits and pieces of the whole spices.
- Transfer the resultant mix to an air-tight container. Before capping the lid of the container, take a whiff – careful you don’t actually snort the stuff, that hurts – and remember what a marvel you are and how much you are capable of.
Butter Toasted Spicy Masala Chai:
Serves: 2 people
- 2 tbsp of the Spicy Masala Chai Mix (feel free to add more if you enjoy it on the spicier side)
- 1.5 tbsp of either Ceylon or Assam black tea
- 1 tbsp of butter (preferably salted to highlight the contrast between sweet and spicy)
- 1 cup of milk (full fat cow, goat, almond, coconut – use lower fat for coconut since it’ll be too rich and overpowering with the full-fat canned variation)
- 1.5 cups of water
- 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup, or coconut sugar (more or less, to taste)
- Lipped saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- That one mug that you always use
- On medium heat, add 2 tbsp of the Spicy Masala Chai Mix to medium sized saucepan, preferably one with a lip. Toast the mix for about 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Make sure to stir the spice mix continuously, so as to prevent burning.
- Add the 1 tbsp of butter to the saucepan and mix it into the spice mix to form a fairly thick, dark brown paste. Then add the 1.5 tbsp of black tea, and mix it into the paste. Allow this mix to toast for about one minute.
- To the pan, slowly add 1.5 cups of water by ever-so-lightly pouring it down the side of the pan (the goal of this is to warm up the water before it hits the paste.)
- Mix the paste in with the water. Once the solution is fairly uniform in appearance, slowly add the 1 cup of milk and sweetener of choice and mix again. **Another variation of this is to hold off on the milk, steam it after straining the brewed tea, and then mix it with a hand frothier, such as this, and add it to the tea to make a silky smooth chai latté.
- Allow the solution to brew for about 5 minutes while stirring it every minute or so, on medium-low heat. The spices’ aromas should be saturating your kitchen and your soul by the time you remove it from the heat.
- Once roughly five minutes have passed, remove the saucepan from the heat and using a strainer, strain the mixture into two mugs, or one, especially if these words sang more familiar to you than you would’ve liked. Some kind of cookie with this would be great.
- Take it easy, breath slowly, maybe today will be the day you’ll realize your ability to change all that you believed you couldn’t, and then act on it, today.