Chai Time

Each country is unique in its culture and customs, and obviously India is no exception. When I started working at Shahi, I noticed that there were certain things about office life in India that differed from that in America. One of the main things being the daily ritual of drinking chai mid-morning and midafternoon. Chai time is much more than a time to drink a beverage. During the summer relationships between my co interns and co-workers were formed. It was a time to talk about everything the most routine things to questions about Indian and American life.

Everyday twice a day at chai time I would take my water bottle out and join my two co interns to chat either with each other or co-workers. The reason chai time held such value at the beginning was because it mirrored that feeling you get when you’re trying to find a lunch table to sit at during the first day of school. You can drink your chai alone or you can try and branch out. I will admit that it took me a while to branch out beyond my two co interns during chai time. I’m appreciative that this custom exists because otherwise there wouldn’t be this built in opportunity to know your coworkers. Of course chai time wasn’t the only way to know your coworkers, but these 15  minute breaks seamlessly integrated into our lives five days a week for ten weeks provided a daily challenge to learn something new.

A handful of times we’d have conversations about Indian culture and how American values either converged or diverged from that. However, most times conversations during chai time discussed stories and occurrences in our co-workers lives that provided little windows in their experiences that we could relate to in some way or another. That’s what I appreciated, that sometimes the small talk and stories told over chai provided some familiarity that made me feel closer to my co-workers.

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About Alexi Chacon

Class of 2019, majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Intern at Shahi Exports in Bangalore, India in summer 2016.