City Food – Mahadev-Parvati Chai Stall, Civil Lines, Gurgaon
Portrait of a partnership.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Just another roadside tea stall, you might say. But it has a picturesque setting. Under a leafy khirni tree. Outside a deliciously decrepit bungalow. Across the road from a public garden.
While the air is filled with the sounds of bird songs and peacock cries.
The unnamed tea stall has been in Gurgaon’s genteel Civil Lines in the Greater Delhi Region for the last 20 years. It is run by a couple called Mahadev and Parvati—also the name of a much-loved couple in the pantheon of Hindu gods.
Both husband and wife chuckle at their connection with the divinity. Mahadev says, “We didn’t marry each other because of our names.”
The couple arrived in the city from Murshidabad in West Bengal “and our stall ran so well that we were able to marry all our four daughters from its earnings.”
But the stall’s best days are over, especially after 2006, “The year when many government offices moved out to other areas.” The couple feels so connected to the location, however, that they can’t think of shifting the stall to a more lucrative sight. “We are used to it now… this is home,” says Parvati, sitting under the tree. She adds that they live in a nearby jhuggi (slum). This cloudy afternoon there’s only one customer sitting on a facing bench. He confirms he is a regular. He also regrets that the number of stall’s regulars have dwindled over time.
You, however, ought to hang out in the stall not to satisfy charitable instincts by giving business to Parvati and Mahadev, but to cherish the effortless atmospherics of the place. Besides, this is one of those super rare establishments where the delicious ginger-flavoured chai is not served in those vile plastic glasses but in real china cups. The stall opens daily from 8am to 5pm. Sunday is closed.
Life after the best days