CHIC CHAIWALA

India Today - - LEISURE - —Chinki Sinha

Four years ago, for­mer graphic de­signer Jiten Suchede launched his first pop-up chai thela at a Delhi hand­i­crafts mela—an ode to the fen­nelflavoured chai he re­mem­bered from his days as a stu­dent. His wanted to cre­ate an al­ter­na­tive to the Barista-style cafes, one that cap­tured some of the old-school chai stall’s sense of com­mu­nity.

Now, Suchede’s pop-up, Jug­mug Thela, is a per­ma­nent fix­ture at Cham­pa­gali, an erst­while ware­house in Delhi’s Said-ul-Ajaib that has been con­verted into a con­glom­er­ate of cafes and star­tups. Aside from Jug­mug Thela, Cham­pa­gali is also home to the swish Blue Tokai Cof­fee Roast­ers, as well as Suchede’s Ja­mura De­sign out­let. There’s also a small shop called Ju­gaad, run by Karm Marg, an NGO that works for or­phans—which is an­other fo­cus of Suchede’s busi­ness. In 1999, after buy­ing a bag from Peo­ple Tree, he no­ticed a tag say­ing it had been made by street chil­dren. He tracked down the NGO be­hind it—Karm Marg—and be­gan vol­un­teer­ing with them. When Suchede opened his chai ven­ture, he de­cided to hire young peo­ple grad­u­at­ing from such care homes.

Jug­mug Thela has an in­dus­trial feel, but the smell of chai and the sound of con­ver­sa­tion give it a sense of com­mu­nity. As Suchede says, ev­ery­thing can be recre­ated, if not re­pro­duced.

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