Sunday, 3 May 2015

Chai Wallahs of India | Zach Marks & Resham Gellatly

Photo © Chai Wallahs of India-All Rights Reserved
"In Hindi, a wallah is someone makes or sells a certain good. Chai means tea. A chai wallah is person who makes or sells tea—or both! But in India, chai isn’t simply tea, a hot drink made with water and leaves."
Chai is the word for tea in many countries of the world, and is an ancient beverage which has played an important role in many cultures. The chai from India is a spiced milk tea that is increasingly popular throughout the world, and is made of black tea, milk, various spices and a sweetener. The most common spices added to it are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper. 

I recall the first time I drank masala chai was while I was photographing the 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. Fourteen years ago, and I still remember the taste of my first cup. It was on the grounds of the Kumbh Mela encampments, and was served in a small clay cup which one threw away to break it when done. Nowadays, chai is usually served in small plastic cup...another sign of "modernity".

Zach Marks and Resham Gellatly are collecting stories of chai wallahs from India’s many distinct regions, highlighting the variations in chai culture and the role chai wallahs play in different communities. By documenting how chai is woven into the daily fabric of India, they seek to depict a culture that epitomizes India’s diversity and unity.

Their stories can be found on Chai Wallahs of India