ISLAMABAD: It is said that if you have big dreams, you will grow into them. Similar is the story of 27-year-old Imran who moved from Rawalakot to Islamabad 12 years ago to study. He had dreams, aspirations and all the motivation he could pack in his bags. After getting bachelor’s degree in business administration, he tried his hand at several jobs, but soon realised that the nine-to-five grind is not for him.
With little investment, he decided to open a unique tea stall. He discussed the idea with one of his teachers, who was elated by his entrepreneurial spirit. He advised Imran to find a shop and open a proper café instead of a stall, and also offered to pay the initial rent.
He worked day-in and day-out, made the wood ceiling by himself as carpenters were charging too much, and did much of the wiring and electrical work and the second round of paint on the walls without having any prior experience. He took help from three NCA students; Sahib Jan Mir, Rizwan and Umair to help him with the decor. “They pitched some ideas, which I eventually executed myself,” he added. Imran wants the young generation to know that money is not everything, but passion is.
Located in F-11 Markaz, Chai Chowk offers tea mainly but also serves some desserts. Interestingly, it offers absolutely unique combinations of tea, such as milk-based lemongrass tea, cardamom, ginger, and the house specialty, saffron tea. The café also offers several green teas such as cardamom, ginger, mint, areca nut, lemon, honey and an herbal infusion of cool peppermint and Earl Grey.
Among the eatables, Chai Chowk offers wheat maple banana bread, moist chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, Börek — a savoury Turkish dessert — along with different cupcakes and brownies. It also offers pizzas on special order. “Our speciality is the Nutella pizza, but we do all other basic flavours,” said Imran.
The tea comes from Sri Lanka, and Imran has them blended according to the Pakistani palate.
The homely environment and culture sets it apart from the rest. Chai Chowk’s decor is simply and nicely done with board games on display and visitors often come and play them while having their cup of tea.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2015.