“If you visit Ram Nagar Basti and ask for ginger tea, everyone will point at my stall. In fact, they lovingly call it ‘Haneef chacha ka Allam Chai.’
It’s been more than 30 years now that I have been selling tea at this spot. It all started when I moved to Hyderabad in 1983 from my village in Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district to earn a living. Back home, I used to work as a daily wage labourer in the fields, but there wasn’t enough work. When I came here, I began working in a tea stall at Warasiguda. I still remember those days when I used to walk from Ram Nagar to Warasiguda every day to sell tea and earn Rs.10 by the end of the day. But that didn’t last long and I turned to starting my own tea business upon taking a loan.
Initially, it was difficult. Starting a business and gaining the customers’ trust goes hand in hand. Especially for a teas stall, because it’s not just a business but also a hub for good conversations and exchange of feelings and emotions. Those informal chats about who people are outside of work, happen here. People talk about good and bad experiences here, but this is also a place to learn about someone’s personal life. So, it is the ambience that keeps this business going. I have maintained that relationship for a long time now with my customers. Moreover, there has not been a single day in my service where my customers have gotten disappointed with the taste of the chai I prepare.
But ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, everything has changed. Post lockdown, all the other businesses are picking up, but mine remains dull. A majority of my customers are office goers or daily wagers, but due to the ongoing pandemic, a large number of people are working from home and the rest have moved back to their hometowns.
Earlier, I used to sell 35-40 liters of tea but now it has come down to 5-5.5 liters a day. I know that things are not going to be the same for the next few months too, so I am trying to prepare for it mentally.
I am wearing a mask, gloves, and ensuring a certain level of physical distancing between people who visit my shop.
I wish to convey to my customers and well-wishers that their ‘Haneef chacha’ is missing them and their conversations.”
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