“18 years ago, I left my small village in Karnataka and came to the city of dreams to make it big. I loved to cook, so when I came here I started to look for work and within a few days I got the opportunity to work as a chef at a big hotel in Mulund. Initially I was so happy, I was earning well and had the title of a ‘chef’ at a hotel in a city like Bombay, but over time I realised that none of this was making me happy. I felt alone, out of place and that title meant nothing to me, because I had no one to share it with.
I left that job and came here to Dhobi Ghat. I started making tea for the houses and offices in this area and I felt at home immediately. It’s a small place, I’m a simple chaiwala making not more than 5-6 Thousand Rupees a month, which is much lesser than what I could have made at the hotel — but I’m so happy. These people treat me like I’m a part of their small family here — I enjoy waking up, chatting with everyone as they come here for their morning tea and feeling a part of their lives. All the money in the world cannot replace the feeling of a home and a community to come home too and that’s why I long to hear the words ‘bhaiya, ek cutting chai’ every single day.”
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