Graduate Chaiwala - An incredible story of perseverance

Sadhan Chetry ran away from home (Patgaon in Kokrajhar district of Assam) just because he didn’t want to study further after graduation. It was in 2020. Sadhan landed in Guwahati and started something called ‘Graduate Chaiwala’ and today it is one of the most sought-after brands of tea in Guwahati.

In the process, Sadhan Chetry braved the toughest obstacles all alone. We caught up with Sadhan to know more about his journey and rollercoaster ride.

Excerpts

Where are you from? Tell us about your family.

I am from Kokrajhar and my parents live in a small village in Kokrajhar, called Patgaon. They are teachers who work in the same school. I also have a brother younger.

What is your story and why did you choose the name ‘Graduate Chaiwala’?

There is no such special significance or a story behind it to talk about. Just that I always wanted to sell ‘chai’ and I wanted to do something unique with it. When I started my tea stall, I was thinking of a good name for my stall. It was then that I came to know about ‘MBA Chaiwala’ for the first time. Since I had completed my graduation by that time, I had a discussion with my friends and could finally come to a decision. Hence the name.

I continued selling tea without any poster for some time. I then thought of writing ‘Graduate Chaiwala’ on a piece of paper and pasted it at my stall. After a point of time, I finally came up with a poster with the name on it which caught the attention of many and people started showering love and support.

There are a lot of challenges. Did you ever feel like giving it up? If yes, how did you motivate yourself?

I have never felt like giving it up so far because I never had the time to think about it. During the initial days of putting up of my stall, I return home at night, have my dinner and go to sleep. The next day I wake up and wash the dishes.

Now my staff helps me out in doing the same. Also, most of the time, I need to keep myself updated regarding the availability of stock to serve people at my stall and I need to deal with people regarding payments and stuffs as such. My mind remains occupied all the time and this is the reason, the thought of giving up has never struck my mind.

Now that you have a huge fan following and people know you, support you and most importantly love you as ‘Graduate Chaiwala’, do your parents know about it? If yes, are they happy knowing it?

Yes, they know about it. Initially, they were totally unaware of the fact that I used to sell ‘chai’ here in Guwahati. However, they later came to know via a news channel.

When my parents first got to know about it, they were not happy at all. They were of the opinion, “Master ka beta chai bejtaa hain, accha nahi lagta.” However, when I had got my father treated of COVID-19 in Guwahati, that was the first time when we could exchange some amount of conversations which has slightly settled matters among us. Earlier my parents used to stay offended. Now, they say nothing.

For how long have you been doing this? What has been the growth and how many people are involved with you?

It’s been one and a half year since I first started selling tea in Guwahati.

The growth so far has been good. For the time being, it is me alone. However, I have my staff along with me to assist.

How is your business doing in terms of revenue?

It is not much as of now. Also, just making money out of it is not the sole intention at present. I wish to carry this forward to a wider audience first and gradually expand it systematically. This concept of serving ‘chai’ to people and entertaining them with ‘music’ has indeed attracted the crowd to a large extent and more and more people have come forward to be a part of it. Therefore, I am hopeful of a better tomorrow.

Now that you have been consistently receiving this endless love and support from the public, how do you feel about it?

It always makes me feel very happy. I feel blessed to have met so many good people in this journey who have immensely supported me and have shown enough of their love and kindness. Also, everybody makes sure to leave a word of praise or a positive response, every time they visit my stall. So even if I couldn’t earn that much, I am glad and grateful for I could earn the good people and lots of happiness. And I hope and pray to God to keep on blessing me with such happiness in the near future too.

To end, tell us a little about your future dreams regarding the name ‘Graduate Chaiwala’ which has become more of a brand now. Do you wish to do something bigger in life with it?

Yes, I do wish to expand this worldwide and I need to make it reach to more and more people. I have a dream of serving ‘chai’ to people everywhere and make them listen to songs so that they enjoy and can celebrate happiness. Also, I truly hope that people everywhere around the world have Graduate Chaiwala’s ‘chai’ and listen to Graduate Chaiwala’s songs.

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Shaheen Akhtar
About Shaheen Akhtar

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Shaheen Akhtar is a Guwahati-based award-winning poet and writer. Her poetry collection 'Words from Dust' was published recently.