Delhiwale: Chai served with a crossword puzzle

Alumuddhin who serves the first half of the day, is full of gossip jokes and kind of noisy. Although sudden flashes of anger are not uncommon, they however dissipate within seconds. Sirajuddhin, his younger brother is by contrast much quieter and calm and he communicates though his gentle smile, almost as if he is secretly delighted at the ways of the busy city life.

It is like a crossword puzzle. Sirajuddhin tea stall is one of the most fascinating street side chai stops in the city. It is unique. On a shelf clamped into the wall ther is a wooden slab running from top to bottom and left to right. This divites the shelf into a stack of square shaped spaces, thus making it look like a sort of crossword puzzle that you often encounter in newspapers.

Of course instead of the alphabet letters the little boxes are usually congested with tea things. One box might have ginger sprigs and pink mugs. Another might have a kettle whose chipped texture is so evocative of the everyday chai civilisation that a history fan might feel tempted to steal it and display on his room. A close=by box is filled with China cups, tea glasses and the box below is packed with tiny metal trunks, or possibly a cash box. On the top row a box is over-stuffed with rusting metallic tea carriers that hold several chai glasses together.

Everything about this chai stall place was set up by the senior of two brothers. Including the wooden shelves according to Alimuddhin. The brothers house is just a few meters away.

The place has a couple of small steps beside it and one does not see the customers crowding up, enjoying their chai while watching the flood of traffic of dogs, mules, people, motorcycles go on with their daily routine on the lively street.

The VIP seating however is just across the lane, under a beautiful tree beside an uknown’s person marble grave. The tea shop regulars sit there all day long, chatting over the cups of Sirajuddhin’s chai with milk. The regular snacks are also served: fen and biskuts. The place starts serving daily from 5Am to 10PM,alghouth it used to stay open till late night during the pre-pandemic days.

On the day this place WAS SHUT closed with a wooden lid, the sight was haunting. It was such a rare afternoon as it seemed like the corner had lost an iconic part of it.