Quit an IT Job to Become ‘Engineer Chaiwala’ in My Hometown in MP

I changed both city and profession to follow my passion.

My Report
3 min read

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Video Producer:
Aastha Gulati

I am Ankit Nagwanshi and I am an IT engineer, but this is not all about me. Last year, I left my job in Nagpur at a software engineering company and journeyed back home to Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh to become a chaiwala.

When I was employed at my previous job, we were served tea on our desk but it wasn't great in taste. In the evenings, my friends and I used to go out in search of the perfect kadak chai and I noticed how crowded those small tea stalls used to be. That is where I got the inspiration from. I had also been planning to start a food business because despite all its learnings, there was no such satisfaction in the work I was doing. Despite my family’s doubts, I decided to quit my job in August 2019.

Following My Passion

Having lost my parents a few years ago, I am the eldest in my family of three. The decision to quit my job and start my own business was tough, given the financial responsibility. The environment was such that everyone thought I had to hold a job.

They were all tense, confused if it would be successful or not. I convinced them that I would not only sell tea, but also more things and even open a restaurant. I took advice from my close relatives and after some deliberation, they agreed.

  • The reviews have been positive so far.
  • The reviews have been positive so far.
  • The reviews have been positive so far.

Of course, selling tea on a cart would seem very easy, but it requires much more than the skill of brewing it. To learn more about how this business is run, I travelled to famous cities like Jaipur, Amritsar, and Bengaluru that have popular chai-walahs. I observed how confidently they were selling tea and how they were handling their business, executing daily chores and so on.

Thereafter, it took me around 1.5 to 2 months to create a chai masala. I experimented with many and finalised on two varieties.

Daunting at first, I started selling tea within my colony for feedback. I noted down pointers from their experience and calculated the amount of masala needed for 1, 2, 4 litre batches of tea, how long to simmer it and so on. Finally, by February this year, I started selling tea and became ‘Engineer Chaiwala’.


Pandemic Slowed Business

When it was finally time to start, I was only able to serve tea for a month as the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March. This halted my plans, but luckily I was able to get by with my savings.

Moreover, I also had to move locations. At the location where I first started, there were 2-3 shops in the vicinity that began having trouble with me. So, I had to move from there. At another spot, again, residents started having some trouble. I was a little dejected and thought to go to an empty spot. I started my stall alone near Chhindwara's municipal office, with no other shop in proximity.

Quit an IT Job to Become ‘Engineer Chaiwala’ in My Hometown in MP
(Photo Courtesy: Ankit Nagwanshi)

Now, near my cart, 3 to 4 chaat shops, 2-3 fruit shops, and 1-2 mobile vendors have cropped up. There's a small market there now.

Tables had fortunately turned. At first, I used to look at spots with crowds and other shops, but the opposite has happened now.

I have had several people asking me to pack tea for them to take back home, others complimenting and talking about the tea I make amongst their friends and contacts. This is the biggest motivation for me. As I had planned, I am now trying to open a restaurant. I expect that, in 4 to 5 months, I can acquire a space and continue to expand my business in Chhindwara.


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