We live in an era where, in India, nationalism is regularly being overpowered by Hyper-Nationalism. In this situation, imagine someone who is a lawyer in Australia but has accomplished something of which every Indian would be proud.
Uppma Virdi, a 28-year-old Indian-Australian who wished to spread the magic of the great Indian tea in the island nation, has now accomplished her dream to some extent. She started the company Chai Walli, intending to serve the Australian Tastebuds with the delicious Indian tea. And guess what, she has won over the hearts of the Australian people. Uppma won the businesswoman of the year award at the 2016 Indian Australian Business and Community Awards held in Sydney.
“The path to success is to take massive, determined action”~ Tonny Robins
Everyone these days is in the pursuit of becoming a starry cricketer, a dashing actor, a doctor or a professional with which comes fame and money. Most of us are told to pursue what is regarded as ‘good and respectable’ in society. Now consider how difficult it would have been for Uppma Virdi to choose her life as a professional ‘Chai Walli’.
Before being an official Chai walli
Born in Chandigarh in 1990, Uppma was raised in Melbourne. She had been doing well as a lawyer in the Australian Supreme Court. Her love towards tea wasn’t new as she had been making it at home for her housemates and guests. Once during her brother’s marriage, she recalled, it was her who made thousands of cups of tea for all the guests. According to her, tea is a brilliant idea of making people come together. After shifting to Melbourne, she had some difficulty in finding the right tea places there.
When the plan is to be unorthodox
Not all ideas work, neither do all fail. Uppma never took making tea as a burden, and that’s what was the sign of her ‘tea future’, it was just a matter of a push. She wanted the Australians to be more acquainted to the Indian culture, and that’s when she decided to take the next step.
With the Australians being too occupied with coffee, it was the right time for Uppma to make this opportunity count and bring some change in their taste. She started with some seminars on ‘The Art of Chai’ with the goal in mind being teaching Australians the nutritive values of the Ayurvedic tea. She shared her workshops on social media and among her family acquaintances. Her hard work was appreciated when she began to sell her tea in small stores in markets. Somehow she managed to get the Indian tea imported from poor farmers in India, and now her online store has seen worldwide appraise. She feels that tea is a communication starter for people in India and helps in bridging the gap between people of divergent communities; in fact, she says, the tea itself creates communities.
“If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right” ~Henry Ford
When in 2014 Uppma created the ‘Chai Walli’ company, her sole aim was to get it tasted by as many people as she can. With many women being solely restricted to household work in India, Uppma has made even household work look stylish and encouraging. Within four years, she has got numerous achievements to her name, which are enough to attract you towards being a role model.
Turning Obstacles into Milestones
Her family and friends were initially opposed to this idea of hers to make tea the taste of Australia. Herbert Bayard Swope once said, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” When you have a good life going as a lawyer, would you be allowed to switch to a ‘tea-making’ business? An obvious answer to it is No. When it’s not just an idea but your life, difficult situations have to bow down in front of you. Her family and friends are now her biggest strengths.
Pritam Singh Virdi, her grandfather, was a Homeopathic and Ayurvedic doctor. The way he used to find a solution to every medical problem through his special ayurvedic tea, spreading the Indian culture, served as a plethora of inspiration for Uppma. She has always been thankful to him for his teachings about using natural ingredients for making a heartwarming tea.
The Vision of this ‘chai Wali’
Apart from making tea, Uppma has always been there to listen to Indian tea makers who make their living by serving tea to people. She wishes them to be provided with more dignity and acceptability in the society, after all, no work is ‘no work.’ “Find somebody to be successful for. Raise their hopes. Think of their needs,” this quote by Barack Obama suits this situation the best.
‘The most perfectly balanced chai blends’ is what her online website says, and rightly so, she blends not only the taste of tea but people with different backgrounds as well. Her business won best chai award at the Royal Hobart Fine Food Awards in 2017 and at the Best Health Food and Beverage Awards, her chai was a finalist. From 2 signature chai blends, now her business has grown to 15 Ayurvedic blends and teas with all the imports coming from the organic tea farms of India.
“Some people dream of success, while others get up every morning and make it happen” ~ Wayne Huizenga
For those people, who are going with the flow and doing what they are told to do, stop yourself and ask once, do I really enjoy this work? It's the 21st century which makes it high time to stop worrying about “log kya kahenge?” Just like Uppma, all you need to think about is your preferences. For a woman to come this far is in itself a big thing. It's high time that we, in India, take inspiration and make stories like that of Uppma Virdi's a 'normal' and not 'once in a decade' sort of.