Chai pe charcha at Amritsar's Cooper Road, minus Modi
BJP poster boy Narendra Modi's 'chai pe charcha' might have generated quite a media buzz of late but Giani Tea Stall at Cooper Road in Amritsar does not need such thing to pull the crowds.
It is but usual to spot a number of people sitting in clusters, relishing tea and talking over a range of issues, including politics and the latest news, during the early morning hours at Giani Tea Stall, a popular hangout in the city.
A six decades old tea-joint, celebrities like Dharmendra to Ranbir Kapoor; politicians such as CM Parkash Singh Badal to Navjot Singh Sidhu have had a cup of tea here.
Every morning, there is a long line of cars, from a Maruti 800 to SUVs and luxury cars, outside the tea stall where people sit together on vintage stools to have a cup of tea. We met Giani Gurmeet Singh (58), the owner, to know what makes his tea unique.
"My father Giani Karan Singh started a tea stall in Lahore with the same name before Partition. He moved here after Partition and opened this tea stall in the fifties," says Gurmeet Singh.
"I am working here for the past 45 years. We are lucky to be in a place where Guru Ram Das lived. There is certain magic in the water of this place which is evident in our tea too," he adds.
"I feel it is not about just visiting my stall, it is also about giving us so much respect and love. It was an honour to serve tea to CM sahib, MP Navjot Sidhu, cabinet minister Anil Joshi, Gulzar Singh Ranike. Even some Bollywood stars like Ranbir Kapoor, Dharmendra and more have been here and there are many who have also visited us more than one time."
On more tea shops being opened around, he says, "Even if 20 more shops open around, it will not affect us. Those coming here would come here only. I have boys like Raju, Mohammad Sabheq and Laxman who are working with me for the past 10-20 years and they are managing the business very well."
On his plans to expand, "Who wants to leave the land of the Gurus? This land is blessed. There are people from America and UK who call me and ask to open branches there. But we are not able to manage this only."
Mohammed Sabheq, one of the waiters, is working at the tea stall for 17 years. While for Laxman, another waiter, the tea stall has given him a chance to meet a host of celebrities. "There have been times when celebrities sat here for hours and we got a chance to talk to them. Film shootings have also taken place here. It is quite an exciting place to work in."
Vishal Sehgal, a regular visitor and a businessman, says, "I am coming here for the past seven years. It is a meeting point which refreshes me."