The efficient and polite waitress at the Tea Room told me this intriguing cube-shaped teapot is not an antique, but rather is part of a complete service that is for sale in the nearby gift shop. These delightful blue-patterned pieces are imported from Thailand. The pot alone is about 30 Euro, a most reasonable price. You don’t see many teapots made in the shape of a cube. Note the Zen-like brass handle and the circular mandalla of a lid.
As for the broad green leaves of the vine growing above the railing near the table, well, they’re Solandra Maxima, also known as chalice vine, cup of gold, goldcup vine, and golden chalice vine.
“How do you spell that?” I asked, pen poised above the page of my notebook. As the waitress patiently recited the Latin letters, I scribbled.
“When in bloom the flowers of this vine are shaped like a chalice, six to ten inches long, flaring open to four to seven inches across,” she continued. “The five lobes of the corolla are reflexed, and each lobe is marked with a narrow purplish brown ridge on the inside. These exotic blossoms start out yellow and turn to a rich, dark gold as they age. They are fragrant, especially at night, with a scent reminiscent of coconut.”
The erudite waitress went on to say that these thick and woody rope-like vines may run for more than 200 feet, clinging with aerial rootlets and scrambling over everything in their way.
“Fascinating,” I said.
“Shall I pour?”
“By the way,” she said, smiling. “You must not eat the leaves of this vine.”
I nodded my thanks for her warning-in-jest, and after she departed I scribbled in my notebook that there’s a great metaphor here, and doubtless many more in this exotic place. The challenge before me is to try to figure out what they all mean.