Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chai Wallah

It's been some time since I was in India but my memories are all incredibly vivid, I think because every moment in India is so saturated, a densely layered affair for all five senses.  One of the most persistent, and quickly very comforting sounds, is the unmistakable cry of the chai wallahs as they compete to put a nurturing cup of tea in your hand in exchange for a few rupees. 

Once, at a train stop, a small boy improbably carried a full, small-boy-sized pot of tea with an active fire going in a lower chamber onto our car, shouting "Chaaaiiiii-ya" as he walked the aisle.  I ordered a cup and he expertly poured my tea into a clear plastic cup without spilling a drop.  The thin plastic distorted and shriveled up at the first touch of the nearly boiling liquid and I knew that if I were him, the cup would have been hurled in the air and I'd be jumping up and down trying to shake the pain out of my hand.  I daintily took my tea, switching it from hand to hand until it cooled enough to drink.

More traditionally, chai wallahs serve their chai in glasses or small terra cotta cups.  Racks such as the one pictured here are used to deliver orders to office workers or shops hosting some customers.  Ours are made in Mumbai using discarded bicycle spokes and hold 6 glasses, great for tea, juice, wine, or even a home-made salsa flight.  Be the world's first salsa wallah!  At only $19, they're great housewarming and wedding gifts or just a quick trip down memory lane for anyone who's ever traveled to India.  Write us here for more pictures or to order one.


  1. i'm so excited this is up- looks great and soooo tempting! always, adt

  2. I am obsessed with Chai Wallahs...just kidding but I really do have fond memories of them from my travels. I want them for my house...there's something so cozy and friendly. This is my first time writing on a blog...have I entered the current time zone? I'm so disoriented!