A tea cafe in Shivaji Nagar of Bhopal ‘Chai-34’ is popular for selling 22 varieties of tea, which are served in a kulhad. This café is run by Madhur Malhotra who left his high-paying job in Australia and returned to India to sell kulhad chai.
Madhur (33) worked as an engineer in Australia before he opened his café in India. After earning a master's degree in Information Technology and Communication in Australia, he landed a job at a big company. Though he earned well, he was always worried about his parents who were living alone in India. When his mother suffered a serious health problem in 2009, he decided to leave everything and come back home. While speaking about this, he said,
My mother had to undergo an open heart surgery. She was 72-year-old, while my father was 78 at that time. After my sisters got married, they had been living alone. Realising that managing everything alone would be difficult for my parents, I came back to India.
After returning to India, Madhur started working in his family's construction business. However, as it was an old and established business, it never caught his interest. One day, he visited a tea joint with his friend Shelly George. The person making the tea did not have clean hands and Madhur noticed that he was not wearing gloves. He also observed that most of the people were smoking and very few girls were there at the tea joint. The whole scene inspired Madhur to open a tea café of his own.
Madhur and Shelley planned to start a tea café of their own with better ambience where people could come with their family and friends to enjoy a cup of tea. He began with Irani tea, but it didn't become popular with the locals as they were not familiar with it. Research told him that the taste of normal tea enhances when served in a kulhad. Also, from an environment-friendly perspective, kulhad was a better alternative.
The two friends invested their entire savings in building a small café, which became very popular. Due to financial constraints, they started making tea themselves and served it in a kulhad.
'Chai-34' has other fast food items also available but it largely popular for its tea. Unlike other tea joints in India, the quantity of milk used in the tea is less. Fifty to 100 customers come regularly, and the numbers increase in winters to nearly 200-400 visiting every day. The café has now expanded and Madhur has a staff of six people working for him.
Read this in Hindi