Thursday, 8 January 2015

Killing our Kitli Culture

The city of Ahmedabad is known as the centre of education in Gujarat and along with that comes its very own amazing phenomenon known as ‘kitli culture’. We in Ahmedabad are fiercely fond of our tea; nobody can keep us away from it. We even have a tea company that began here! In a place where tea is not even grown! Because of the immense market of tea consumers, lots of tea stalls or ‘Kitlis’ can be seen dotting this city’s streets. You may have to hunt for an ATM but certainly not for tea.

If you don’t know what a Kitli is, I suggest you take a look at this; The Kitli: Much more than just Tea.

Coming back to the matter at hand, there’s something ‘Vibrant’ happening in the city shortly. Heads of states, chairmen of international conglomerates, ministerial level officials and investors are coming into town. For the Chief Minister, Santa Claus is rather late this year but it sure looks like he is coming nonetheless.

So lots of MOUs get signed and multi-billion promises get thrown about nonchalantly at this event. But, does one have to sell the city’s soul to give an impression of development? Is it absolutely necessary that the common people suffer so that a few foreign dignitaries get the false impression of our streets being devoid of people who earn a day’s living by its side?

Since the past week, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has been clearing all the kitlis and eateries that are stationed by the roads so that our former Chief Minister, the present one and their very important guests don’t have to see these hard working people make a living by selling tea on their precious ‘roads of development’. This is what has happened because of the project of a man who claims to be a former ‘chaiwala’ himself. I suppose he doesn’t believe in taking care of his own.

Image Courtesy: Joel George.

Instead of embracing these kitlis and being proud of them as being part of the city’s culture, their stalls are being dragged away like they are a nuisance. Are the authorities ashamed of this tea culture while they proudly flaunt ‘Indian culture’ in everyone’s faces in Delhi? Talk about hypocrisy!

I’ve been fortunate to have had many interactions with foreign exchange students from various countries throughout my education and I’m proud to say that I’ve taken each and every one of them to a kitli at least once. And they love it! They admire the street life of the city and the vibrancy that reflects in the people here who prefer to breakfast on muskabun or omelette at a kitli rather than bacon and eggs in a five star hotel. This is what Ahmedabad is and what it should be portrayed as.

To you dear authorities, I only ask that you stave off kicking the poor man in his stomach so that you can sign that multi-million dollar deal that might never be realized after these people go back home sniggering at your pathetic attempts to show this city for what it’s not.

Be proud of this city, not ashamed and maybe the people won’t be ashamed of you then.

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