My incurable penchant for a well made cup of chai takes me to various places around the country – restaurants, cafes, tapris, theatres and even the famous late night cycle-wallas in Mumbai. But a cup of tea that can never be forgotten is the Chai at Chhota.
MICA\ Mudra Insitute of Communications is an eclectic space on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, buzzing with creative ideas, frisbee games, avant-garde graffiti and the latest Ed Sheeran music. It is of course a B-school, where I happened to pursue an MBA. But it’s so much more!
It is a place where you learn, that profits don’t drive businesses, but ideas and innovations do. It is a place where you understand that your team matters more than your targets. It is also a place that makes sure that for every 4 AM assignment submission, you have a cup of Double Chai by your side at all times.
Everyone who has studied at MICA, has loved it or hated it, has had an indispensable relationship with Chhota (191). Some of our everlasting friendships were forged at Chhota, on the charpais under the lanterns over Double chai or Cold coffee. Breakfast was undoubtedly the best meal at MICA, consumed by the least number of people.
For the majority that arose after 9:30 AM, Chhota was the first word we uttered every morning. A meal never eaten at leisure, chai had instant accompaniments like samosas, poha, cheese vada-pav ready for everyone who chose to utilise the first five minutes of the morning lecture at Chhota.
No one really woke up to the world, before a cup of chai at Chhota.
There was also a large population of Cold coffee loyalists, but chai always emerged as a clear winner – on sunny mornings, rainy evenings and cold, winter nights which were quite unnatural to Ahmedabad. I wouldn’t say that the chai at Chhota was anything remarkable in terms of taste. But then, a cup of tea is never really defined by it’s ingredients.
It is always about the vibe and the story around it – some of them expressed, some of them felt and some of them just fondly remembered, standing with a cup of imported tea , in the pantry of an air conditioned glass building, at the helm of a densely crowded metropolis, looking backwards on an open space with wooden stools, painted tyre swings, a couple of hungry cats and the smell of independence.