International Tea Day: These Chai Walas from India lead a life with a twist

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For India, chai comes first!

Celebrating the one thing without which life would actually seem to be impossible. From waking up to a cup of tea to it being our only rescue during the days when health keeps us down.

Chai is indeed our constant, especially the roadside chai that is loved when its ‘kadak’, some of the roadside Chai Wala’s lead their lives with a twist and we would like to share it with you.

Laxman Rao: Tea & Tales

Well, who doesn’t love tea and books? Laxman Rao doesn’t just sell chai at his stand outside Hindi Bhavan in New Delhi; he sells books that he has written and self-published.

Having to live a life with passion, he teaches us that work with hard work while doing what you love doing and share it with people around you.

A Blessed Chai Stall

Have a religious devotion to chai? Nanak Chand’s chai stand in Old Delhi is decorated with images of Hindu gods so customers can pray while their having their hot cup of tea.

Chai indeed is like a devotion to all of us and getting it with while praying too. Delhi indeed has everything.

The chai stall that personifies secularism

Bechan Baba has been caring for Chaukhamba Masjid, a mosque in the back lanes of Varanasi’s Old City, for many years. He also looks after the chai stand, started by his father, which sits at the front of the alley leading to the dargah, though his son Amit has taken over as chai wallah.

While the 14th century mosque was originally a Muslim pilgrimage site, Bechan Baba is a Hindu, and followers of all faiths often come to seek his wisdom – and a cup of Amit’s chai.

Wisdom and chai in Varanasi.

Sunita

Sunita has been selling chai, cigarettes, gum, and Maggi noodles outside of Curlies at Anjuna Beach, Goa, since her childhood. Her work day starts at 4 pm and during the peak season lasts until 6 am. At 20 Rupees, Sunita’s chai doesn’t come cheap, but late night party goers depend on the caffeine and sugar fix to sustain them through the night.

Chai At The Golden Temple

Imagine cooking for 500,000, while we are exhausted after cooking for even 5. That is the task faced by the volunteer chefs and chai wallahs at Amritsar’s Golden Temple. On the eve of Guru Nanak Jayanti, Sukhpreet Singh prepares chai in massive cauldrons, which contain 30 kilograms of dry milk powder diluted in 300 liters of water.

The Tea Stall Under A Tree

Two years ago inspiration struck Raju Das while he walked down S.P. Mukherjee Road near Kolkata’s famed Kali Temple. “I saw this tree here. I thought it would be a good place for a business. So I made a chai stand.”

Grab some pink chai

Outside Tololing Tea Stall in Leh, mornings are spent around the gurgling sound of chai wallahs making salty namkeen chai. They mix strongly brewed green tea with salt and baking soda, which gives the beverage its distinct pink color. Many locals add a heap of butter and mix in tsampa, roasted barley flour, for a hearty Ladakhi breakfast.

The Floating Chai Stall

The need for chai can arise at anytime. Those who find themselves on a shikara in the middle of Srinagar’s Dal Lake don’t have to wait to get back on land for a cup. The floating Raja Tea Stall serves kahwa, a Kashmiri specialty brewed with saffron and cardamom and topped with crushed almonds. And that chai is indeed the best that you might especially go to Srinagar just for that cup of heaven.

So, isn’t it time that we celebrate the Chai wala’s all around us, and know there stories. There might be several others too that await for their stories to be heard and let’s give them a chance.

Happy International Chai Day, Chai Lovers!

 

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