We Indians love our ‘Chai’ and also those who brew this special beverage for us. For many of you, it might be a member of your family, but for many others it’s some ‘Chaiwalla
’ or tea-vendor by the roadside outside their college or office.
Chaiwallas are the real face of busy streets across any city in the country. Be it a Bus-stand or a Railway station, be it a University or a big corporate building, be it a Joggers Park or a market place, Chaiwallas are omnipresent brewing little anecdotes of life along with a hot cuppa.
Though upscale tea-cafes are steadily mushrooming across the country, the Chaiwallas are still there in their full glory , serving customers more than their favorite drink, tea. Chaiwallas and their small ‘thela’ or stall are a microcosm of life in the area where people discuss politics, economics, weather, sports, Bollywood, even love!
But if you think that Chaiwallas of India form some kind of homogenous identity, we’re sorry to tell you that isn’t the case. Just like no two cups of tea are the same, neither are two Chaiwallas. There is a story to each of them! There is a life around each of them. From a twenty-one year old to a sixty-eight year old, from necessity to family business, Chaiwallas too come from all walks of life.
While every Chaiwalla has a unique style of brewing and spicing the chai, he or she also knows personal preferences of their regular customers. And it is this very personal touch and roadside camaraderie that goes beyond any social or racial boundary and makes Chaiwallas and their ‘thelas’ so integral and special to India’s cultural fabric.