Friday, March 6, 2015

Story of the Honest Roadside Tea Vendor in Andheri

Living in Mumbai was a learning lesson in my life. I had to grapple with every irritating issue on my own, since the protective hearth of my home wasn't a reality anymore. I had to make a move to Mumbai for six months, but those testing times showed no signs of coming to an end. From doing my laundry without a washing machine, to having bland food to shopping for groceries on my own. The list of the endless atrocities that life had in store for me, had lost count.
I was living in the university hostel at that time. The food was tasteless and flavorless, but I had no other options but to resign to fate. The only saving grace was the tea I had in the morning and evening, which was available in those glossy coffee shops outside the campus. This seemed to be a great idea initially, until it started creating bigger holes in my pocket. Soon, I started to look for local roadside tea vendors, who would serve me two cups of tea or coffee and make my day.
I had to make peace with the reality, for the struggle to find a good roadside tea vendor was all in vain. I did find a few tea vendors, but their tea made me throw up, since it wasn't served with hygiene.  I used to guzzle numberless cups of green tea which was to cater to my health needs. Sadly, it didn't give me the kind of kick that 'tea with milk' gave me. As my mom puts it rightly, I can imagine living without food but surviving without tea is like being slapped with a curse for a lifetime.

I was loitering around the buzzing neighbourhood, while picking up oily soggy snacks for the evening, when I happened to spot a tiny shack being thronged by human life. I walked closer to quell my curiosity until I was pleasantly surprised.
It was a tea vendor bingeing on brisk business. A teethy smile expressed the joyfulness in me. I ambled towards the place and tried to order a  cup of tea. Ironically, there were very few women in the crowd and to place an order, one had to squeeze in. It wasn't the greatest idea and I decided to let the crowd have its say, before I could place my hands on a cup of tea. I kept standing there, checking out my watch and hoping for a miracle until a voice cracked through the silence.
'Madam, chai lengi aap (Will you have tea?)
'Ji, ek. (Yes, one cup)
'Rukiye. Abhi banata hu. Adrak wali?'
(Wait, I will make a cup. Would you like to have ginger tea?)
'Ji.' (Yes)
I was moved by the respectful dignity with which he treated a woman like me, who was feeling like a lost child looking out for her house. 
One doesn't have to learn the alphabets to know manners.

After getting an inkling of what I wanted to have, he responded promptly. 
The tea tasted strongly of ginger and it wasn't sugary or watery. Milk was added in the right amount.
The perfect cup of tea was finally a reality. It was served in thermocol glasses and it didn't make me puke.
I was heartily thanking my stars for bringing me accidentally to this little shack.
A few minutes later, after having paid and as I was walking back, I heard someone shout. I wondered if the call was for me. I turned to take a second look, and saw the middle aged tea vendor rushing towards me. I was startled and didn't want to play with fire. Why was a tea vendor running towards me like a mad man? I walked hurriedly until the guy kept calling out for me.
A little later, I halted myself and turned around.
I had forgotten to take the balance for the five hundred ruppee note I had handed over for a glass of ginger tea.
Honesty, sometimes comes with a cup of tea.

                            Picture Credit:

This post has been written as an entry to the "Look Up Stories" in association with


singhalalok said...

I too can not live without tea in the morning.

I am amazed with the honesty of the Tea Vendor, hope we find many such examples in future.

rinzu rajan said...

We sometimes find honesty when we least expect it, and in places that we do not look out for it.
Thank you for the visit.

Sankeerth said...

That was one awesome post of honesty that came with a cup of tea! Well expressed :)

Sankeerth said...

That was one awesome post of honesty that came with a cup of tea.! Well expressed :)