Lucknow a city of –Chai and chat

 “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy tea

and that’s kind of the same thing”

This line suits best for Lucknowites. Lucknow’s love for tea is one of its kind. Some only prefer a hot cup of tea, while some prefer their cup with samosa and some with bun-makkhan or bread pakoda. You can easily find a variety of things to accompany your cup of tea.

Being an intellectually and politically active city, a steaming glass of thick tea and a warm discussion is the most common view of almost all the tea shops in the city. The city is flooded with tea shops ranging from small roadside chai ka thela to normal chai ki dukan and even tea bars and café.

Shivam Joshi, a tea shop worker of Lucknow University’s LUMBA canteen said “there is no estimate of how many cups of tea we are making. Every morning we bring 60 litres of milk but it lasts for only a few hours than we have to order more milk depending upon the requirement. Students came here, sit and talk for hours drinking multiple cups of tea. A majority of the students prefer samosa with tea. I myself drink 10-15 cups of tea in a day.”

Ajay Singh, a university student said, “We usually have small breaks between classes and for that tea is the best companion. It’s economical as well as engaging.”

Jagjeet Singh Arora is a chai thela owner near Mayo Medical Centre behind Kendriya Vidyalaya in Gomti Nagar. He is there for past 13 years and his major business with tea is bread-pakora. He said, “my business is not only from the hospital but also from school.”

jagjeet singh arora with his thela
Jagjeet Singh Arora near Kendriya Vidyalaya Gomti Nagar

 

Puneet Rawat a middle-aged man who came to the tea shop early in the morning after his morning walk with his friend said “it gives a refreshing start to my day. ”

Kripa Shankar Pandey, another chai-thela owner near Seth M.R. Jaipuria School in Gomti Nagar said “I use nearly 50 litres of milk every day to make tea, and my main customers are students. If 20 percent is going for jeera or biscuit than 80 percent will go for samosa or pakodi with tea.”

kripa shankar pandey

Kripa Shankar Pandey near Jaipuria in Gomti Nagar

 

Piyush Tiwari a student said, “After an exhausting day, a cup of tea is what we all need to make us fresh and to give us energy. It’s our daily routine to have tea here. The chai time is the best part of my day; we can enjoy both the tea and the quality talks.

Graduate Chaiwala is another special chai thela owned by three brothers- Govind, Gopal and Madhav- who are jobless graduates, outside Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. They cannot get a decent job to run their house so they came up with a small business idea, as they cannot afford a large-scale one.The Sharma Tea Stall is a world famous tea shop of Lucknow,

The Sharma Tea Stall is the most famous tea shop of Lucknow, started by late Om Prakesh Sharma and now run by his sons- Deepak and Gopal. The shop is also one of Lucknow’s Heritage Arc. The average consumption of milk in the shop per day is around 80 litres. The shop also organises many social events and get-together. Jashn-e-itwar is one such meet where alumni of St. Francis School meet.

sharma tea stall
Sharma tea stall in Hazaratganj

 

It’s a favourite destination for celebrities as well. Himanshu Sharma, who has written scripts for Tanu weds Manu, its sequel and Ranjhanaa is a regular customer of the shop and visits the shop every time he visits the city.
Pande ji ki Chai ki dukan is another famous tea point near BBD at Faizabad Road, serving mirch pakoda along with tea. Not only students but for faculty, the tea shop is a great hangout point. It’s an escape from stress and work for both the students as well as the faculty.

pande ji from pande ji ki chai ki dukan
Pande ji from Pandeji ki Chai ki Dukan near BBD in Chinhat

 

The tea lovers of Lucknow are of all age groups. A college going youngster will be as much a fan of the chai as a middle-aged or older person. Gopal Sharma of Sharma Tea Stall said “I have not seen such a craze for tea in any other city like Lucknow, the love for tea for the

Gopal Sharma of Sharma Tea Stall said “I have not seen such a craze for tea in any other city like Lucknow, the love for tea for the lucknowites is a unique thing to see. My customers are of all age group. People belonging to Kalyan Singh’s age group to a very young child in his teen all come here to enjoy tea.”

Gopal Sharma of Sharma Tea Stall said “I have not seen such a craze for tea in any other city like Lucknow, the love for tea for the lucknowites is a unique thing to see. My customers are of all age group. People belonging to Kalyan Singh’s age group to a very young child in his teen all come here to enjoy tea.”sharma tea

Planters tea bar and café, in Aminabad is the first tea bar of Uttar Pradesh. It offers around 50 types of teas, in an affordable price range of Rs 35 to Rs 65. The various types of tea include white tea fruit tea and methi tea. White tea which is liquor priced around Rs12, 000 per kilogramme, is good for heart, knee and cancer along with teeth.

It’s one of the few cities where youngsters even go for a tea-date. Ayush Singh, a city youngster said: “I like going for a tea-date instead of going for a high-profile coffee-date because it suits my budget as well as I feel more connected to tea than coffee.”

So if you are planning to visit the city, don’t miss the tea.

A village free of open defecation, alcohol and violence

An open defecation-free (ODF) Garo village in Goalpara district of Assam is not only the state’s cleanest village, but also is a place where no one consumes alcohol, drugs or smoke and it has never witnessed any crime in at least past 17 years, which  is not only a model for the state but for the entire country.

Rangsapara,  Assam’s cleanest village, has started its work to be a clean and peaceful place in 1999, said Roberth John Momin, Village Head, who is part of this since the very starting.

The village has also taken a pledge to be plastic- free from this month and is also planning to become the first village in the country with a cashless economy, he said.

“The arrival of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin was a blessing for the place.  The mission came to the block in the year 2014 and with its help and efforts of public health engineering department (PHED) the villagers began to have pucca toilets, which was previously only kutcha,” said  J V N Subramanyam, Deputy Commissioner

Rangchapara was declared the cleanest village in the state for the year 2016-17 by the public health engineering department (PHED) last month and also received a sum of five lakh rupees in form of the award by the CM Sarbananda Sonowal.IMG_20170215_141033483_BURST000_COVER_TOP

The village was selected by  Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development – a third party which examined every village in every district on the basis of criteria including attempts to become ODF, pucca toilets and their condition, attempts to promote awareness on cleanliness amongst others.

“It was in the year 1999 when the village people began talking about cleanliness and in 2000, we formed a 10-member committee, which was headed by me,” said Momin.

“The committee has taken four resolutions – to be a peaceful and united village, to be a clean village, every household should have toilets and availability of clean drinking water for all,” he said.

The village with 88 households – all Christians – since the formation of the committee did not see any case of open defection, violence or anyone consuming drugs, alcohol or smoking.

The village with 88 households – all Christians – since the formation of the committee did not see any case of open defection, violence or anyone consuming drugs, alcohol or smoking.“We have imposed a fine of Rs 5001 if anyone found not following our resolutions, but the best part of our steps is that the fine was never imposed on anyone,” said Momin.

“We have imposed a fine of Rs 5001 if anyone found not following our resolutions, but the best part of our steps is that the fine was never imposed on anyone,” said Momin.img_20170215_113854202_hdr

Villager’s intention was to make the village clean, this intention will also bring fame and award was a surprise to them.

“The villagers had no idea that they can even be cleanest in the district, but they were found to be cleanest in the state,” said Abdul Mozid, Senior Block Development Officer, Balijana Block.

“The village is never affected by the conflicts in the area; they live peacefully and with unity,” said Mozid.

“The village is never affected by the conflicts in the area; they live peacefully and with unity,” said Mozid.

“The villagers also have proper waste management. You can find a dustbin after every few steps and they dispose of biodegradable and non- biodegradable waste accordingly,” he said.

The village has two schools – one primary and another middle. The people are neither very rich nor are highly educated. The muddy road which connects the village to the district is also not in a very good condition and the 108 ambulance refuses to ply in the village.

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Village’s Lower Primary

“We have been demanding for the money since 2014, but no money has been granted. It is a very serious problem,” said Ratna Nath, Panchyat President Balijana Block.

The steps to be the cleanest village has not only helped the villagers to get the award but has also reduced the number of children falling ill in a population of 475.

“People are now connecting health with cleanliness, which has also helped in reducing the number of diarrhoea cases to half. The village is a perfect example of what people and government together can do,” Subramanyam said.

“The village is now a brand and is helping in bringing changes in the nearby villages. People began to follow its path to not only be clean, but healthy as well,” he said.

The main profession in the village is agriculture, and only seven people are in government jobs. Most of the houses are kutcha, but with the help of the Indira Awas Yojana, they began to have a plastered house made of bricks.IMG_20170215_132809375

Jesus Christ Superstar Reloaded

In a time when things are only being banned, the famous Rock Opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ was staged in Pallikoodam School, Kottayam district of Kerala 25 years after it was banned in the same school.

On October 15, 1990, the children of the school (Corpus Christy School at that time) were all ready for the performance when founder Mary Roy received the order from Alphons Kannamthanam, former IAS officer and then Collector of Kottayam for the ban on the play. Although it was a temporary ban, it took 25 years to get it lifted. The case shuttled between the government and the Kerala courts for a decade before it went to the Supreme Court.IMG-20151204-WA0019

The rock opera, written in 1970 by Tim Rice with music from Andrew Lloyd Webber, tells the story of the last seven days of Jesus’ life on earth starting with Him and his disciples in Jerusalem and ending with His crucifixion. It highlights the struggle between Judas and Jesus with a psychological point of view that is not in the Bible. The opera depicts the agony of Jesus during his betrayal, trial and condemnation. The play shows that Jesus Christ was not the son of God but was actually nothing more than the right man at the right time. It also shows that Judas was much misunderstood and was depicted as a tragic figure dissatisfied with the direction in which Jesus steers his disciples. The rock opera also suggests that Mary Magdalene may have had a relationship with Jesus.

The ban was put on the drama because it was seen as both sacrilegious and blasphemous, against the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith and could hurt religious feelings. But Father Abraham Vellathadathil, former Principal of Henry Baker College, Idukki who challenged this ban in the Kerala High Court along with Mary Roy said that the rock opera is a literary piece and even the Christians of the Vatican enjoyed it.IMG-20151204-WA0007

On Friday, December 4 2015, the school witnessed the play again as the Supreme Court of India lifted the ban from this dance drama in April, 2015.

The bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that since Jesus Christ Superstar had already been produced all over the world and is available online, a ban based on an order by the district collector serves no purpose. People of Kottayam can easily watch the play on the Internet.

The interesting part of the play was that those who were students of the school during the ban are now parents of the school students; the music band still has members who were part of the 1990 play as student. No Christian was offended with the play or its contents when it was staged now, majority of the students performing the play were also Christian.IMG-20151204-WA0006