Thursday, 3 April 2014

Chai and Sarkari Babus !!

BlogAdda's Spicy Saturday Picks

I have been working as a Government officer (prefer calling myself a sarkari babu) with the State Government of Gujarat since last four and half years. Along with myriad and interesting experiences, I have found one thing to have a special connection with every Government official across ranks and designations. And that is the humble chai (tea). This humble drink holds a very special place in everyday
Image Courtesy: A sarkari babu friend / colleague
lives of us sarkari babus. In the times of cappuccinos and cafe lattes, green teas and iced teas, the normal chai has not lost its sheen in government offices. Across occasions, instances, moods, celebrations and complaints, the chai remains constant. Let me tell you how.


The productivity of any sarkari babu is directly proportional to the frequency, quality and hotness of the cuppas of chai they are served. Give them more, better and hotter cups - and see the productivity zoom northwards. An office day in the life of a sarkari babu starts with call to the peon to serve chai. (Yes, the peons serve them. Who needs vending machines?) Unless the chai reaches tables of every sarkari babu, the day cannot begin. It is like their kick to kick start the journey of serving fellow Indians in some way or the other. (What, don’t look at me like that, after all we are also known as sarkari naukars.) Mind you, this procedure gets repeated at around 4 pm. And no chai is equal to no mood to work, whether morning or evening.

If a sarkari babu colleague (of equal or higher rank) visits your table/cabin, the first thing that gets done is ringing a bell to the peon to serve tea. If you don’t call for the chai, you either don’t respect them enough to be served tea, you are a miser or you are not on really good terms with them. But wait, even if you are not on good terms with the visiting colleague, you still serve the cuppa. All the office politics and differential views go out of the window when it comes to serving the chai.

This humble chai is also an important instrument of showing and receiving gratitude. You help somebody in their work, support them in finishing an urgent assignment, go out of your call of duty to do anything for anybody even if it is just giving some advice to resolve an issue; you straight away get obligated for being served tea by the one you’ve helped. Instead of saying welcome for the thank you that you receive for being helpful, you say ‘Chai pila dena’ (Serve me tea). Yes, it is that simple in our sarkari world.

Chai comes in picture even in times of distress. You are not happy with a fellow colleague or you want to bitch about them, the first words that any sarkari babu would utter are these, ‘aajtak ek chai bi nai pilai hai muje’ (He has not served me a single cup of tea till date). Yes, the chai is that important in our lives. It also goes the other way round. You are casually talking about somebody’s goodness; the chai makes a visit even here. ‘Oh he is a very good person. Jab bhi jao to chai pilaate hain.’ (He serves tea everytime you go to meet him). Getting the importance of chai in our lives? Wait, let me tell you further.

You may arrange a get-together in the daftar (office) celebrating your promotion or retirement, your child’s first rank or your wife’s birthday; you may serve the best of the snacks available, but if you don’t top it up with a chai for everyone, the party isn’t over. People would wait for the chai to be served. And mind you, if you make them leave without their chai, your party is doomed.

If chai comes in picture at the times of bitching, imagine its importance in terms of friendship. You are frustrated and you visit your sarkari babu friend. The first thing that the sarkari babu would do to soothe your nerves is to serve you a hot cup of chai.

Even the rant of a sarkari babu about heavy work load is not free from the chai. ‘Aaj to itna kaam hai ke chai peene ka bhi time nai mila’ (I am so burdened with work that I have not even had my tea today) If you hear a sarkari babu saying this line, immediately understand that they have been battling with some serious workload. Because, it is only in extreme conditions that a sarkari babu would sacrifice his daily dose of chai.   

A chai is always welcome for a sarkari babu at any time of the day. You have visited a colleague who served you tea. You go to somebody else’s cabin immediately and they serve you tea too. You never refuse. Never.

Whether it’s a board meeting or a client meeting, the chai is served, always. And if you don’t, it’s considered rude. Very rude. Questions are straightaway raised about the financial position of the organization if you don’t serve it. Period.

The connection of the chai and sarkari babus is so deep that even favours (if you know what I mean) are termed as ‘chai paani’ ;) Ooops, should I be saying this? :0

So be it friendship, enmity, happiness, frustration, celebration, praising or bitching - a chai is available for any and every occasion in a sarkari babu’s life. Have you heard that phrase that you never let somebody who comes at your door leave without giving them alms? There is a similar phrase for sarkari offices and babus too. You neither let a sarkari babu go from your office nor are allowed to leave their cabin without exchanging the humble chai ;) It is also said that if you cut a vein of a sarkari babu, there is all the possibility that he shall bleed chai ;)  

Hail Chai and the sarkari babus ;)




This post is written as a part of April A to Z Challenge 2014 under Non-Themed category. I am doing two posts for this Challenge and Themed posts can be found here.

58 comments:

  1. Chai is now even the pleasure and pain of non-sarkari babus :p

    Chal ab chai pila de :D

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    1. Is it non-sarkari babu ??? :P Come down to Ahmedabad, mast chai pilati hun tuje.. ekdum sarkari wali :P

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  2. No wonder every time I go to a government office a glass of cutting chai is almost always sitting pertly on the desk! :D Had fun reading Jyotsna!

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    1. hehe.. Yes.. its the most faithful companion of us sarkari babus !! Glad you enjoyed Gauri :)

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  3. Subtle humour at its best. Very well written. Love the punch line "It is also said that if you cut a vein of a sarkari babu, there is all the possibility that he shall bleed chai.". Awesome


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    1. Glad you liked it. Thank you :) Glad to have you here :)

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  4. I nodded so vigorously I lost my head. Wait, I had lost it when I was laughing like a maniac too. :D
    I AGREE, and the caps should emphasise how much. :D Well-written with gentle-not-so-gentle digs and astutely observed.

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    1. Haha.. Yes, the CAPS emphasize how much you agree.. You know the connection only too well.. you have a sarkari babu in the family.. Glad you liked it Sakshi :)

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  5. I can't survive without chai... Loved how you described your office and the part chai plays :) Was never a fan of coffee... But chai... Slurrppp :)

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    1. Glad you liked the connection Rajlakshmi.. I hope you sipped on some chai after this :P

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  6. My mother is a sarkari babu too with the Income tax department and my God, Chai is like Elixir for her too!
    haha Now I know it is the same for all the babus.

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    1. Yes.. State Government or Central, our love for chai remains constant. You just have to attach the word 'sarkari' to a person, the chai would follow soon :P

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  7. It is also th best pass time, when we bunk a lecture :D

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    1. Ah yes.. the joys of bunking lectures !! Sigh.. Nostalgic you made me with your line :)

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  8. You are quite determined to change and teach us this new A B C D..

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    1. Haha.. And Rajesh, I hope you are learning this new A B C D well :P

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  9. Haha...the humble chai of the sarkari babus. I deal with sarkari banks every day and I know that if they are in a gruff mood they have not got their chai! Loved this!

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    1. Oh Aditi, dont you mess around with us when we have not had our chai :P Thanks dear :)

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  10. lol.. the Chai and Sarkari Babus are inseparable

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    1. Totally and absolutely inseparable ;)

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  11. This is universal :D Sarkari babu n chais :) the best chums ever !! :)

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  12. Wow! What all is the humble chai capable of I say! :)

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    1. Oh yes,,the humble chai is so very capable :)

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  13. haha..arey Chai is what everyone sarkari or non sarkari babus want..I never really understood the need for tea every few hours in a single day!

    Random Thoughts Naba

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    1. Nabanita.. I will tell you . We need the chai to keep ourselves from dozing off on those files.. my God !! have you seen their size :P

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  14. Nice one...i am sure i will also bleed chai throuh my veins in working days :-)

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  15. I am drinking a cup of chai myself as I read this post. And I am not even working in an office.

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    1. Ah.. the chai connection.. Enjoy your sip :)

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  16. Aah..This made me nostalgic :(

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  17. Such a fun post Jyotsna :) Chai pani ke liye
    chai pilaade. I simply loved it. I never worked sarkari job but I Know it all !

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    1. Haha.. Thanks Afshan.. I would be glad to offer you some chai ;)

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  18. Nice charming post... keep writing in this humorous style

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    1. Thanks a lot Rajeev. Glad you liked this one :)

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  19. Oh woman! You wouldn't believe - ! Okay I don't even have to tell you what you wouldn't believe - you already know :P
    But obviously, not about sarkari babus, cos even us non-sarkari babus need our chais...

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    1. Omg babes.. dont tell me.. you are saying what I am thiking :P So the chai is the universal love of sarkari and non-sarkari babus :P

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  20. Us non sarkari types love chai too! It's the staple of the subcontinental work force... nothing like a nice cuppa to sooth nerves, create friendships and brainstorm... Mutlipurpose drink!

    I almost did my post on chai too for today's challenge, but changed my mind last minute....found you from the AtoZ challenge!

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    1. You have given it an apt name.. Yes it is a multipurpose drink. Glad to have you here :)

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  21. Thanks for the super awesome glimpse in the life of a Sarkari, budday girl. Superb post ab chai piladena bos..our chai unites and cement the bond:)

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    1. Thank you so much Vishal for reading and for the wishes. Hope you liked the glimpse in 'our' life. And yes, you are always invited for having an amazing cuppa of chai with this sarkari babu :)

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  22. I lived in Gujarat for 11 years. Miss the chai. ;)

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    1. Oh wow.. Glad to have you here Rebecca :)

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  23. Wadda observation :) *clap clap*

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    1. Thank a lot for your appreciation. Glad to have you here :)

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  24. This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

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  25. Ah! Chai is a treat for everybody I guess... I used to drink 6 cups of tea to be awake, and two coffees when I started with my job! I had to reduce my intake later on- thinking its not healthy. Though I am fan of variety of chai- you just name them! Good Post! :)

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    1. Yes, chai indeed is a treat.. And six cups?? seriously.. ??

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  26. Awesome Jyotsna. So funny I am still laughing out loud.

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    1. Thanks Anu. Glad to have made you laugh :)

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  27. Wonderful narration of importance of tea in lives of a sarakari officer. You have picked minutest of details in an office culture. Really loved reading your post :)

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    1. Thank you Ravindra. Glad you liked it :)

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  28. Congratulations! Your blog post has been selected for the Best of 2014- Spicy Saturday Picks Edition at BlogAdda! You can check it out here - http://adda.at/BAspicy14
    Thanks for a wonderful blog post! :)

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    1. Thank you Team BlogAdda for this wonderful surprise :) :)

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  29. Congratulations! the humble chai has been elevated and placed under the spotlight . Toh a cuppa of tea for the BA team. ek chai ho jaye.

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    1. Thank you Kalpana. Oh yes... the chai and its importance in my life. Team BlogAdda sure deserves a cuppa from my side ;) And you are welcome too !!

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