.Tea with or without milk was never an issue until that fateful day when the newly elected president of Frommia, Mr Topolovski, gave an interview to a well-known international news channel. He spoke about international and domestic politics in a measured tone, but when at the end of the interview he was asked about his tea drinking habit and why he never added milk to his favourite drink, Mr Topolovski became irritated and burst out, “Tea with milk is a sacrilege. As long as I live, neither I nor any
onemember of my family would ever drink tea with milk!”
As the program was also aired in Galia,
watched in the neighbouring country also,it was unsurprising that the president’s words caused an outrage. Within hours of the itsbroadcast, ing,his counterpart, Mr Uzunov, president of Galia, appeared on thenational TV, expressing his disbelief and dismay. He demanded an immediate apology from Mr Topolovski.
What caused Mr Topolovski to utter such insulting remarks would soon become a matter of speculation. Mr President was drunk; his tea blend was bad; he was suffering from a mental disorder; his marriage was on the rocks; he was
using medicineon medication which muddled his mind. Everyone hoped that Mr Topolovski would realize the seriousness of the offense and apologise. But he wouldn’t dream of it; and he ignored all requests by Mr Uzunov to meet and discuss the matter. The latter felt offended again because of the snub, and he pulled his ambassador out of Frommia. It took Mr Topolovski just a few hours to do the same. And to prove that he had the upper hand, he immediately withdrew his country from the joint Frommia – Galia’s candidature for the Football World Cup. Upon hearing the news, Mr Uzunov turned to the UN Security Council, demanding a strong condemnation of Mr Topolovki’s statement. The UN Security Council was convened the following day, but after hours of heated discussion, its members were unable to come up with any meaningful statement. It was clear that the way theambassadors' drank their teaviews on hot beverages influenced their outlook. Five of them preferred their tea with milk, otheranother five without, and the remaining five drank only coffee. After themidnight, the bleary-eyed Secretary-General stood in front of the media and told the journalists how sorry and worried he was. He had two cups on his lectern and drank from one cup and then from anthe other saying, “Now I am drinking tea with and now without milk, and I think they both taste great. We should all work together to make the world a better place and acknowledge our differences. I would like to urge everyone to calm down.” He turned away with his head bowed and trudged down the empty corridor, ashamed of his impotence.
Emboldened by the ineffectiveness of the Security Council, Mr Toplovski’s party soon organized the largest rally in the history of the country. From cities, towns and villages, rivers of people flooded the roads and streets and gathered at a plateau above the capital
. It was dominated byaround a huge, twenty-meter-high teapot made inof bronze, the artwork of theFrommia’s famous sculptor. The scene was impressive. The crowd of about one million stood waiting for their leader to speak to them. They were ecstatic. They waved national flags, held placards saying, “Without milk!”, “Pure tea!” and carried portraits of their president. They sung in unisonsang patriotic songs in unison and shouted differentvarious slogans. When Mr Topolovski stepped onto the podium, the crowd went wild. He was dressed in a brown suit. His face beamed as he waved gently at the crowd. His bulbous nose and boldbald head gleamed under the sun. He started his speech by reminding people that their tea culture was one of the oldest in the world. Their ancestors drank tea thousands of years before. They had learnt to treasure a cup of tea while other nations lived like barbarians. True, other countries had sent their citizens to the moon, but Frommia had achieved excellence when it came to tea making. “It was we who had always drunk tea without milk because that is the only right way.” His voice was loud, booming,and the crowd chanted, “Without milk! Without milk!” Their eyes sparkled with excitement.
“As long as I am president, I can assure you that tea with milk will never be drunk in Frommia.” He was clenching his fists and punching them in the air. His facial expression turned darker and more determined.
“Our nation has always remained faithful to our traditions and customs, while people in Galia have
turned traitorsbetrayed theirs and taken the custom of a foreign country. How on earth can you spoil the purity of tea by adding milk?”
The crowd booed and roared, “Shame! Shame!”
“My message to you, my neighbours, is: return to your roots and we will be friends again.”
“Without milk! Without milk!” echoed from all sides.
A few days later Mr Uzunov, dressed in a beige suit was contentedly twirling his moustache as he looked at the mass of over one million people in the greatest rally in the history of Galia.
“With milk! With milk!” poured out from hundreds of thousands of throats.
Mr Uzunov smoothed his luxuriant blond hair, which had been tousled in the wind and
said, “We have gathered on this sacred field where our great King Bartolio triumphantly defeated his enemies to say no to oppression and no to dictates of other nations. We have been drinking tea with milk for centuries because it tastes excellent, and we will continue to do
that wayso no matter what the others say.”
“With milk! With milk!” the crowd shouted and waved their national flags and placards.
“We are a friendly nation, and we stretch out our hand to anyone who wants to be our friend, but we will not tolerate those who insult us and our heritage.”
“Shame! Shame!” the crowd booed.
“Our message to Mr Topolovski is: repent and apologise, and we will be friends again.”
But Mr Topolovski certainly did not intend to apologize, because a few days later, Frommia’s parliament voted unanimously for a new bill which officially prohibited drinking tea with milk, and even made it
from now on, in criminal law, it was classified asan act of treason to do so. Anyone caught adding milk to tea would be risking a lengthy prison sentence.
TO BE CONTINUED
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