What the hell is 193 Cups of Tea?
The 193 Cups of Tea project came about while I was thinking of things to build on the success of 52 New Things, a project I undertook in 2010 to try one new thing every week. I was trying to think of something that would provide a similar level of entertainment, but with an equally tangible outcome. And would allow me to keep most of pubic hair on this time.
I was at a friend’s wedding and was seated next to a couple, as you do. I knew the chap vaguely from the stag party but had no idea that he was married. As we engaged in small talk, recounting the tales of the shared weekend in Devon, he mentioned that his wife was Columbian. I’d never met anyone from Columbia, and was fascinated to hear about how they met. We ended up spending most of meal talking, recounting stories, questioning one another and, of course, drinking. It was fascinating and lovely and they were an amazing couple.
I came away feeling very aware that actually, despite travelling to Mongolia and back in a black taxi in 2008 and travelling all over the world for business, the amount of people I’d actually met (well, at least remembered meeting) covered probably half a dozen countries….at most. I thought of all those people with all those stories from all those countries. Literally a whole world of lives that I’d never encountered.
I briefly flirted with the idea of trying to visit every country in the world, but that has been done many times and anyway, who the hell wants to go to France? And then I wondered if instead of trying to visit every country in the world, perhaps I could just try and meet someone from every country. Given that London (where I live) is about to host the Olympics I should have plenty of opportunities to meet fascinating (albeit sporty) people from all over the world. Plus buying them a cup of tea would be a hell of a lot cheaper than flying to their capital city. And anyway, what could be more British than meeting someone over a cup of tea.
Why 193? Well that is the number of countries that the United Nations recognises at the moment. Technically with people like Taiwan and The Vatican there are arguably 196 countries, and when you take in dependencies like Bermuda etc there’s somewhere north of 250. But I needed a starting point and this is it. I’ll refine this as the project continues but for now, I’m gunning for 193.
I’d best go and get some milk…