Every morning, he wakes up at 3, gets ready, and heads to his store. Cutting through the overwhelming line of morning customers, he rolls up the shutters and begins the preparations. By 4.30 am, his famous ‘kadak’ masala chai is ready to kickstart the day.
This has been Gulab Singh Ji Dheerawat’s routine for the last 73 years, Jaipur’s most beloved chaiwala!
Located on the Mirza Ismail Road in the narrow parking lane of Ganpati Plaza, Gulab Ji Chai Wale has been serving piping hot cups of masala miracle since 1946. The recent additions are samosas and bun maskas. Said to be one of the best, many chaivinists claim that a single sip of Gulab Ji’s chai sums up the true essence of the historical city!
When asked what makes his tea special, Gulab Ji told The Better India, “There is nothing very different in terms of the recipe. Like the usual tea, it has the same ingredients like masala, milk, water, tea leaves, and sugar. But, as they say, the magic is in the emotions. And our tea is loaded with love.”
True that! They say the magic of taste is often in the hands of its maker. But, the ingredients involved and its source also plays an important part in the gastronomic performance. If you are a tea aficionado and wish to witness some of that magic in the comfort of your home, try out these organic ingredients to pep up your mornings!
The legend of Gulab Ji’s tea
‘Chai’ and ‘charcha’ (conversations or stories) have been intertwined for centuries. At Gulab Ji’s tea shop, it isn’t any different. Instead, this small stall is backed with a legendary story.
“When I decided to start this business in 1946, no one supported me. I come from a zamindar Rajput family, and they took my choice of profession as a sign of disregard to their legacy. And so, they kept a distance from me, calling this work unfit for their social status. But, it was my choice and I stuck to it. Today, all of them understand and are following my legacy,” the 94-year-old chaiwala says, proudly.
From a mobile tea stall to a shop that was set up in 1974 with just Rs 130, he now earns almost Rs 20,000 a day, selling tea for Rs 20, along with other snacks. He adds that every day, more than 4,000 customers come to his stall for refreshments.
But all this work at this age is not yet a big deal for the nonagenarian.
“People make a big fuss about age, but for me it’s nothing. It might matter for a lazy person, but for someone who has struggled through life to reach a certain point, every day’s work is a blessing. I will continue to stretch and work till the time my body allows me to do so,” he adds.
Appreciating years of his greatness, a loyal customer states:
— Nishant Sharma (@IamNishantSh) November 17, 2014
Not just tea, but a warm plate of love
For Gulab Ji, his shop is not just a means of livelihood. It adds meaning to his existence, he says. And, that is why, every morning at 6, and at noon, almost 250 beggars gather outside the stall to get their regular serving of chai with samosa or four slices of bread with butter, for free.
“Most of us obsess over ourselves and our belongings without realising that, in the end, we will take back nothing but good blessings and joy. I do this for joy and will continue till my last breath!” he concludes.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)