Known for its Irani chai, Café Niloufer, located close to a hospital of the same name, is a traditional cafe in Hyderabad. It started gaining popularity in 1976 when Babu Rao, who once worked as a cleaner at the place, took over its management.
Known for its mouth-watering tea, the cafe is always flocking with people who have been coming there for decades. While speaking with The Hindu, Babu Rao said,
I realised early on that chai is an essential and it is one thing people consume multiple times in a day and yet want the taste to remain the same. I have ensured that it remains so. We blend our own tea powder to get the correct colour, consistency, and flavour.
Born in a small village in Telangana's Adilabad district, Babu Rao belonged to a poor family. During his schooling years in Maharashtra, he even helped out at his uncle’s shop. One instance that remains close to him is when his father sold their cow to provide money for his books. Understanding what the cow meant for his father, he realised the value of sacrifice.
Babu Rao decided to work towards building his life, and returned to Hyderabad after completing school education. He had to struggle, and he even slept on the Secunderabad railway station platform. He took up a few small jobs, and then decided to work at the cafe to ensure that he, at least, could get food.
Starting as a cleaner at the cafe, he was initially promoted to work as a waiter, and then to prepare the biscuits and tea. Moving up the ladder really fast, Babu Rao had signed an agreement with the cafe to run it by the year 1978.
Initially, Babu Rao could only take the profits home but had to pay a fixed amount every month to the owners. However, he earned enough by the year 1993 to acquire the cafe, and has been running it since then.
Today, this self-made man is contributing to the society by serving hundreds of people with at least two meals a day for free. He has been doing so for the past 10 years. While speaking with The News Minute, he said,
It shows you how many people go hungry every day in the city. In so many years, there's not one day when people haven't lined up. Feeding someone is the best social service that one can do.