On one of her more recent trips to India, Uppma thought it was about time to interview a local Chai Walla! For those new to this chai world, Chai Walla is the name for a male person that makes and sells chai. Chai Walli is the female version (and an excellent name for a tea company, if we do say so ourselves!).
Welcome to our next #HumansofChai : The India Edition.
It was a 40°C day in my home town of Chandigarh (the capital of Punjab), in the middle of an Indian Summer. I wanted to meet with and share the story of our local Chai Walla, so off I went. We called him Mammu, which is the slang term for uncle (more specifically, your Mum's brother). But his real name was Ram Kailash. Aged 35 years old, he'd been working in this part of Chandigarh as the local Chai Walla for 18 years. Ram was a quiet and reserved man, but oh golly his chai was excellent!
Ram told me that he would start work at 6.30am and then finish at 8pm, 7 days a week. He would sell approximately 500-600 cups of chai a day - rain, hail or shine (except of course during lockdown, which is what India is in atm).
Ram had moved to Punjab from Bihar looking for work. He decided to become a Chai Walla, and he said he's never looked back. He's grateful for how much the local community supports him and his chai stall. With their support Ram is able to run his household where he lives with this wife, two baby boys and his parents.
He helps his family by employing his brother and nephew to help him brew, serve chai to the local shops and to the community that come by his chai stall.
His chai blend on this day consisted of ginger, cardamom, black tea and sugar. It was smooth, simple and hit the spot! I thanked Ram for sharing his story with me, as I enjoyed another glass!
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India is going through a really tough time at the moment (August, 2020) with the COVID-19 pandemic, and our heart goes out to Ram, his family, and all the people in India. We will get through this, and it has been humbling to see how this pandemic has brought us all closer as a universal community.
Thank you for joining our chai journey + thank you for supporting small business + local makers. It means the world to us.
Photos by Rabia Devgan.