The Ubiquitous Chai
Chai is hot tea beverage made with the addition of milk and sugar. Unlike black tea, chai is very popular in India. The beverage is consumed more in North, West and East India and less in Southern India. coffee is more popular in South.
Chai is consumed throughout the day by many in the country. The chai walla a roadside tea vendor is always busy right from the early morning till late evening. The tea stall by the road is usually a small dingy shop tucked away in the corner of number of larger shops in busy markets. It is also sold in hand carts or simply roadside kettles. Any which way the beverage is sold in India.
The chaiwalla is a prerequisite an accessory that is must for the buzz of the bazaar to keep going. It is not only in the busy bazaar that you find the vendors, they are present in isolated places beside offices and colonies. They are invariably present in all railway trains in India. They manage to creep into sophisticated malls, shopping plazas, theatre in guise of vending machines and small cafes that are tucked away in shopping paradises.
The chaiwalla is omnipresent, as soon you land in India you will come across the sellers of cup that cheers. The presentation is diverse from filthy unkempt abusive vendor to gentlemanly service, and all carry a characteristic flavor of their own. The shops vary too from dirty street shop to clean an hygienic corner...well reasonably. The roadside dhabas sell them too.
A railway journey is unthinkable and incomplete without the vendors cry.
"Chai!Chai!Bolo Chai! Bolo Chai!Garama Garam Chai Le Lo!"
The cup that cheers is available everywhere. It is the safest drink if consumed hot. It is the most economical and customary treat for business men, friends and relatives. From Rs. 2.00 to Rs.5.00 you will get a flavorful, hot, cheery and aromatic beverage that delights. For the stiff nosed, tea is available alongside coffee in some fast food joints, modern cafes, tea lounge and upscale restaurants. The latter serves the liquor in stylish kettles and mugs and thugs you out of your hard earned moolah. For there is no guarantee which tea is swanky, it may be a small kiosk selling the most wonderful aromatic and flavorful tea for Rs.2.00 in mud baked cups. Hooray!
The tea making is an art perfected by the chaiwallas. They take the boiling liquor in hollow pan to heights and then dump it I mean place it over the kerosene burner repeatedly, with ritualistic addition of secret spices and flavors. The customers sit mesmerized fixated on every up and down swing of hand of the vendor. The rush is inevitable whence the beverage is made.
"One here! Two here! One here please."
You get yours fast if you are in good books of the vendor's boy. It is like manna raining from heaven. Corruption, favoritism is everywhere here also. Why Not! For people like me there is a grave urgency for the liquor to slither down my throat and make me come alive early in the morning. On roadside kettles you have to corrupt for a stool as well, roughly, tin cans, large canisters or used tyres. Bolo Cheers!