It’s almost synonymous with DU, chai. However, chai-wallas here are not limited to being mere service providers; they’re ingrained into students’ lives.
On 19th August, the iconic Tea Stall inside the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), endearingly referred to as ‘Irfan’s’ by students, accidentally burnt down. There was an approximate loss of assets worth INR 1,00,000, excluding the initial shock factor, and the low spirits that prevail around that area now.
The students and faculty members of the college sprung to action, with a collection drive (which is ongoing) led by faculty member Mr. Santosh Kumar. The sweet little shop is undergoing restoration, and is expected to start functioning again soon. The overwhelming response on behalf of the students, faculty and non-faculty members of the college stands proof of the value and importance of this dear tea-stall. DU Beat contacted Mr. Santosh Kumar but he was unavailable for a comment.
Ananya Jain, a second year student at SRCC expressed her concerns to a DU Beat correspondent, and said, “We can’t deny the fact that Irfan uncle’s Bhajiya Patti was a savior on one too many days. I can’t wait for his shop to become functional again.”
Another student from SRCC, Parikshit Batra, a first year hosteler, said, “My daily Anda-Bread-Chai fix will be missed, but this is not about my breakfast. I was touched by the organisation of a collection drive to help Irfan Uncle; it’s like a little family here that takes care of one another.”
This spirit prevails all over the University of Delhi and extends from Chai wallahs to Co-op book store owners providing crucial assignments and reading at subsidised rates and even letting students borrow books during desperate times. They hold immense importance in students’ lives, adding to the quality and comfort of campus life. Sadly, they often go unnoticed and under-appreciated, their presence is taken for granted, and the same way sound and lighting teams in Dramatics Societies often are. The drab nature of the past week at SRCC has proved how Irfan’s was an irreplaceable part of the college campus. Campus chai-wallahs have forever been a part of any DU student’s life, and their stalls are the very birthplace of the phenomenon called chai pe charcha. Their chai making is almost akin to artistry; tea, milk, and ginger at their best.
These places resemble the eye of the tornado in any college; offering an INR 10 cuppa and peace of mind
amidst the surrounding chaos. Be it the election time or protests, or a regular day, these places are always thronged by students. They stand witness to conversations about subjects ranging from politics to societies and academics to love life. It never happens that a development from the University or the Arts Faculty doesn’t reach them. Barring their timeless charm, these places also have a devoted fan following, just try to criticise Sudama Tea Stall in front of a Hinduite, or talk down Ganga Dhaba in front of JNU Students. Go on, we dare you.
Feature Image Credits: Ramkrishnan, Click- The Photography Society, SRCC.
(Corrigendum: This is to correct wrongful accreditation to DU Beat for the feature image used in this article, in the fifth print issue, published on 29th August 2018. The rightful credits of this image belong to Ramakrishnan, who is a member of the photography society of SRCC, Click.)