Be it education, relationships or career, our society has set certain standards for everything and anything less is unacceptable. There are people who break off from these standards and prove themselves to the world.

Prafull Billore, a guy in his early 20s, did exactly the same. He dropped out from college to start a tea stall and is today an inspiration to anyone who has failed to achieve their dream and has given up on life.

In conversation with Humans of Bombay he shared how failing in the CAT exam despite giving it his all made him feel devastated and frustrated. He wanted to take a break and travel the world.

But this is not how things work in middle class Indian families. We are expected to finish our studies, obtain a degree and take up a job. Prafull’s parents did the same. They did not approve of his idea.

So at 20, I used up my savings from internships & left. I travelled a lot, but upon reaching Ahmedabad, I decided to stay. I got a part time job at a restaurant to sustain myself.

His parents wanted him to get a degree so Prafull enrolled in a local MBA college in Ahmedabad and continued working at the restaurant. 

I was studying & working; honestly, I was learning more as a cashier than as an MBA student.

One day while talking to a chaiwala, he came up with the idea of opening his own tapri. He bought a patila, a lighter & a chalni and started a thela. There was no looking back after this.

The Week

He had his set of challenges. On the first day he sold just one cup of tea but things got better with time. He served conversations about relationships and politics along with chai and his tapri became popular. Now was the time to live his dream. Prafull dropped out of MBA to become a full-time chaiwala.

With no support from friends and family who only ridiculed him, Prafull distanced himself from them. 

My parents said I was bringing ‘shame’ to my family. Even my friends said, ‘Kahan MBA kar raha tha, kahan chai wala bann gaya?’ But I couldn’t give up! 

His tapri was different from others. He organised open mics and tapri to attract the youth. His idea of serving free tea to singles on Valentine’s day went viral. So much that he got recognised as MBA Chaiwala and people started inviting him to put chai stalls at weddings.

Today his cafe by the name MBA Chaiwala has franchises all over India. He is invited to deliver motivational lectures in IIMs and other colleges. People come to him for advice and he tells them:

The degree doesn’t matter, the knowledge does. I’m a full time chai wala & I love what I do!

Like others, if you too are wondering “Why Chai?”. Prafull has something to say:

There’s nothing that a conversation over a kadak cup of chai can’t fix!

You can read the entire interview here.