City Food – Shravan Kumar’s Tea Stall & Shiv Temple, Bhogal
A spot of refuge.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Such a soothing place, feeling so drowsy here. The elderly man in white kurta pajama is indeed nodding off. Can it be because of the easy winter light streaming through these peepal leaves?
This spot in Jangpura’s Bhogal comprises of a small Shiv temple, beside which is tucked a chai place. This late afternoon, Shravan Kumar Tea Stall is scented with the mixed aroma of adrak and doodh. The mandir and the tea stall are like an oasis on this roadside, otherwise lined with motor workshops. A stack of scooter tyres are placed right outside the chai stall, while a few bikes are parked in front of the mandir, perhaps waiting to be serviced in the adjacent workshop. The hegemony of the surrounding businesses makes these two places look more fragile. The temple opens in the morning and evening, Shravan Kumar explains. Its light pink tiles are patterned with vines and leaves. The mandir’s sacred Shivling is partly visible through openings in the locked door. The sleeping man is in fact perched on the temple’s solitary step. The tea stall has a bench though.
Time passes, and nothing happens. Being here is as meditative as lying on one’s bed to look at the ceiling fan. Of course you can do that at home, but then how will you get to enjoy Shravan Kumar’s vigorous ginger-infused chai?
Shravan Kumar’s most celebrated namesake is the famously dutiful son mentioned in Valmiki Ramayan, who carries his aged blind parents to a pilgrimage on his shoulders. The tea man Shravan Kumar, who has been running this stall for more than 20 years, says: “My mata-pita have gone upar.”
Now an elderly gent approaches the stall with the aid of a walker. He addresses Shravan Kumar with a friendly “beta”, asking him for chai. With a light sigh, he sits on the mandir step, beside the elderly gent, who has finally opened his eyes. They exchange a “Ram Ram.”
Minutes pass, nothing happens. Time here is timeless.
Where the mind is easy