POKHARA, Dec 3: It’s just 4 o’clock in the morning. Others in this part of the world might be in a deep slumber, but Tanka Prasad Gautam is a habitual early riser.
He cannot prolong his sleep beyond 4 am. Clad in a winter jacket, cap and muffler this man with a short height walks to Mardi Mountain viewpoint every day before the sun rises. But, this is not just a nature walk.
This is also a business for his family. He walks to viewpoint from the high camp with 30 liters of hot water ready for making tea.
Because of the warm drink that he offers to the visitors, he has earned the name of the chiya kaka (tea uncle). Domestic and international tourists fondly relish his tea. The 42-year-old of Sighing-9 of Machhapuchhre Rural Municipality has been selling tea here for a year now.
“Almost everyone who comes here to view the mountain drink my tea. In the cold, a cup of tea relieves them from the tiredness,” he said.
A cup of his tea costs from Rs 100 to 150 and makes around 50,000 rupees of net profit monthly. His cottage, made up of bamboo sticks faces towards Mardi and Machhapuchhre mountains.
“I sell around 70 cups of tea every day. I started this business with the permission of the concerned bodies. I needed their permission to construct the cottage,” Gautam informed.
He sought the permission of ACAP and the Forest Department before starting this venture.
There are no other tea sellers around. Water is not available from the viewpoint and bringing it from the base like Gautam does, is not an easy task. Due to extreme cold, water sometimes freezes on the way.
“It is an extremely cold area and carrying water from far below is arduous task,” he remarked.
Before starting the venture and earning the title of Tea Kaka, he had worked in the Gulf countries for 17 years.
“I worked there for such a long period of time but during those, I was never satisfied as I am nowadays serving tea to nature lovers,” he reminisces. “Serving tea gives both money and satisfaction.”
While abroad his monthly income, he said, averaged around Rs 30,000.
But apart from selling tea to tourists in the morning, during the day he earns by guiding tourists.
“When people call me Kaka and ask for tea, I feel very good. It’s a wonderful job,” he said, adding that he does brisk business in season. During January and February, snowfall keeps tourists at the bay and his earnings are minimal.