| Zach brews a cuppa at a NaMo tea stall while Resham waits to take a picture on Sunday |
Narendra Modi tea stalls may have found only a few takers in Bihar but they have generated enough steam to attract two young researchers from United States of America.
Zach Marks (26) and Resham Gellatly (25) are researching chaiwallahs (tea sellers) across India. After covering 500 shops across Delhi, Haryana and Bengal, the duo were in Patna on Sunday to cover the Hunkar Rally and taste the tea brewed in stalls named after the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
“The hype about NaMo tea stalls and Modi rising from being a simple tea vendor to one of the biggest political leaders in India attracted us to come and see the Hunkar Rally and the tea stalls,” said Zach, a graduate in economics from Yale University. Resham has a degree in psychology from Boston University.
The duo are travelling together across the length and breadth of India, interacting with tea vendors and their customers. Both can express themselves in Hindi.
Apart from listening to the BJP leaders including Modi at the Gandhi Maidan, the duo went to a NaMo tea stall at south Mandiri, near Patna Museum.
“NaMo tea stalls look like exciting places, full of political discussions. People both pro- and anti-Modi come here and as the stall is named after one of the most important politicians, it gets the conversation going among customers,” said Resham, sharing her experience.
Discussing their topic of research, Zach later said: “We wanted to choose a topic for our research, which would connect to the masses. Tea is an integral part of the rhythm of life in India.”
Discussing the difference between the tea made in Bihar and other cities, Zach said: “The tea in Bihar has more milk than those at other places. Also, the tea is simpler but tastier here. For instance, they make masala tea in Calcutta and Delhi but here, they don’t usually make such tea. The tea in Bihar is thicker because of the milk.”
Zach and Resham are not new to India. They lived in the country in the 2010-2011 on Fulbright-Nehru Fellowships — a joint scholarship programme between India and US for cultural exchange.
Zach taught English at a government school in New Delhi and conducted informal culinary research across the country. Resham taught English at a non-government organisation-run school in the slums of south Delhi and studied Bharatanatyam.
The duo cover around 10 tea stalls in a day and assess the social, economic and cultural aspects of the stalls.
They would travel across India over the next six months before completing their research. Those interested can check out the stories of their travels on their website — chaiwallahsofindia.com.