We had just finished cracking a joke, I interrupted everyone’s laugh and said “Chalo Chai Maarte Hai”. It seems my smoke addict friend was just waiting for this small announcement, he joined me by saying “Mujhe bhi Cigarette ki talab lagi hai” and added “Aaj chai ke paise tu dega”. Few other younger guys in the group do not disagree with anything, the number got increased to five. Remaining two decided to accompany us rather than staying in the area. It was one of the unwinding weekend activity to visit the regular tea stall since this is the only time we get to spend with each other. Apart from playing cricket, tea stall is our second favoured place to frequent with the bunch of nuts.
While entering the stall, my smoke addict friend removed money from the wallet, requested the youngest guy in the group to bring three small Gold Flakes (popularly known as chota) from the nearby paan shop. It is always the duty of the youngest person to do these type of chores in most groups. There is a saying in smokers circle “The Chota gold flake is the Garibi ka sathi whereas the Gold Flake lights is the Amiri ka shauk. The first week of the month is all about Lights and remaining three weeks; we manage with Chota 😉
I ordered chaiwaala “5 me 7 special cutting bhatt, aur please last time ke jaisa thanda chai mat dena”. Another friend mumbled “Ye bhatt ka chai abhi pahele jaisa nahi raha, humlog ko dusra adda dhundna padega”. Since we were the regular visitors, Bhatt used to take our warning seriously sometimes. He started the gas, kept the utensil on it, mixed the already made chai with extra milk, ginger and started doing the most liked part any chaiwaala does. He was mixing all the chai-patti stuck on the corner of the utensil with the tea. Did some chai throw practice in the utensil itself somewhat similar to the fielder who starts warming up with the ball by passing it from his right hand to left hand and so on.
We started smoking, our friends who only came to have tea, moved to the opposite side. The discussion started about the last week’s goof up we made during the match. Everybody started blaming me for the catch I dropped and how it led to we losing the match. They even started teasing me with past records of me spilling the catch at important junctures and started laughing loudly over it. The discussion switched to the fight occurred between the two groups recently. Few people highlighted whose mistake it was in the fight. We reached at the end of the smoke session, this is where the smokers put all their efforts by taking a long breath whilst the smoke is perilously close to the filter side to enjoy the last puff of the cigarette. By this time, tea got a lot colder to consume the remaining part at one go. “Achcha tha Bhatt aaj chai”, paid him the money and we were on our way back.
On another day I asked chaiwaala how he goes about running the tapri. This is what he had to say “Subah 5 baje dukaan kholte hai, nahi toh 5:30 tak toh kholna hi hai, dopahar ko 12 tak public aate rehti hai, bahot kaam rehta hai. 12 se 3 aaram karne milta hai aur baad me wapas 3 se 10 kaam rehta hai. Sabko lagta hai sirf chai banaake dena rehta hai par waise nahi hai, dukan kholne me aur band karne me bahot kaam karna padhta hai” (he was referring to pre and post business hours work). He then went on with his business as usual by placing the tobacco in the mouth which he made while conversing with me.