26-YO Masters Graduate Opens A Chai Tapri In Kolkata, A Look At Her Brewing Success Story

After getting an MA degree, most of us would hit the road looking for a high-paying job, with less work and more perks. However, this chai wali decided to make herself a household name by opening a chai ki tapri at Kolkata’s Habra station.


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A post shared by Tuktuki Das (@tuktuki_chaiwali)

“I always wanted to start my own business and with the limited capital that I had, this was the best option to realize that dream,” says Tuktuki Das, who attached her education degree to her chai brand, ‘MA English Chaiwali’.

With a father who drives a van and mother, an owner of a small grocery shop, in Calcutta, Das has seen poverty. However, that wasn’t why the 26-year-old decided to sit in a small yellow kiosk selling tea on platform number 2 at Habra railway station in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas.

“In most middle-class families, children are always encouraged to study hard and get a government job. It was no different for me,” The Indian Express quoted her saying. However, for the young entrepreneur, being self-reliant with low risk was the goal.

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Inspired by the success stories of Prafull Billore (MBA Chaiwala) and Chai Walli Uppma Virdi of Australia, Das narrowed down on the idea of opening a tea kiosk and selling evening snacks with an investment of Rs 10,000 that she saved up by giving tuitions.

“I had been giving tuition for years and had saved up little by little. Although I liked teaching, it kind of felt stagnant, and I was hungry for more.”

On November 1, 2021, the first day of her tea shop, Das distributed free tea to many of her customers. While she is happy with the response she’s been getting, she is disappointed with how people think lowly of people doing odd jobs to make a living.

“I seriously had no idea opening a stall in a railway station was this big of a deal. It honestly pains me to see how people think selling tea or being a hawker at a railway station is a lowly job. All jobs should get the respect that they deserve, as it all requires a great deal of hard work.”


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A post shared by Tuktuki Das (@tuktuki_chaiwali)

Sharing how she narrowed down on this location, Das divulged, “While researching about the business I short-listed three places where my business wouldn’t tank: hospitals, colleges, and railway stations.” Since, due to the pandemic, colleges were shut and there weren’t any openings in hospitals near her place, she decided to go with this location.

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For Das’s parents, it was hard to digest the fact that their educated child would want to sell tea rather than become a teacher. Talking to News18, her dad Prashanto Das, “Initially I was not happy with her decision, as we educated her with the hope that she would become a teacher and she ended up wanting to sell tea. I reconsidered and thought that if this is her decision so as to become self-reliant, then that’s good.”


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A post shared by Tuktuki Das (@tuktuki_chaiwali)

Youngest of three children, the chai wali had two options- either to have a government service or marriage. And obviously, none of them thrilled her as much as owning a business.

“I’ve always had bigger aspirations, and I’m glad I have been able to kick-start my career on my own terms. By God’s grace, the business has picked up and I’m selling well. Not only have I managed to get some regular customers but also enthusiasts who simply travel to see me.”

Looking at a woman selling tea at a railway station, there were a lot of helping hands extended towards her. But Das is determined to pave her own path. “I don’t want to hear later that I became successful because of the help from others. Good or bad, I want to face everything on my own and show the world, no girl is too small to dream big.”

Foreseeing the future, Das would love to open stalls in Kolkata and thinks it’s definitely a possibility. She also blogs every day and gives a glimpse of the life of a chai wali.

Now you know where to halt for a cup of tea when visiting Kolkata’s Habra station. You go, girl!

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