Hot cuppa served with spoonful of gratitude

While being bedridden, the 59-year-old recalls, he used to look out the window, to see sanitation workers working day and night.
Hot cuppa served with spoonful of gratitude

TENKASI : Adhina Guru, a tea shop at the Rayagiri town panchayat bus stand, barely looks distinctive. Sanitation workers, persons living with disability as well as ambulance staff mill around for a quick cup of tea. A Ramachandran, the proud vendor, serves all of them free of cost, with a smile of gratitude.

In 2020, during the pandemic, Ramachandran battled with life, being contracted the deadly disease. While being bedridden, the 59-year-old recalls, he used to look out the window, to see sanitation workers working day and night. He considers them the Covid warriors.

“After being discharge, I saw social activists and politicians distributing rice, vegetables, groceries, and medicines to the people who lost their livelihoods. This inspired me to contribute my bit to the society. Despite poor wages, sanitation workers were not deterred from working wholeheartedly to curb the outbreak. This was the reason that I first began serving tea for free to the sanitation workers,” says Ramachandran. His tea is a token of gratitude, he says. He also offers milk for free to toddlers.

Ramachandran (top), inspired by volunteers during pandemic, offers free tea to sanitation workers | express
Ramachandran (top), inspired by volunteers during pandemic, offers free tea to sanitation workers | express

Ramachandran offers tea to people of the town who come to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Rayagiri for regular check-ups. Most visitors come from poor backgrounds. He also offers tea for free of cost to pregnant women, ambulance staff and persons with disabilities.

The Rayagiri town panchayat has engaged around 30 sanitation workers in the cleanliness activities. All of them visit Ramachandran’s tea shop at least once a day. “Ramachandran never lets us think that we are drinking tea for free. He considers us as his family. After the end of the second wave of the pandemic in 2021, we decided to pay Ramachandran for tea. He jokingly asked us to stop visiting his shop if we wanted to pay him. By having two cups of tea at his shop daily, I save around `600 a month,” said K Gyanendran, a sanitation worker.

Ramachandran has been running his tea shop since 2015, before which he was selling milk for over 15 years. “Around 50 people have free tea daily. Despite this, I manage to earn `400-`600 a day. My family, especially my son working in Chennai, keep encouraging me,” he adds.

(Edited by Srestha Choudhury)

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