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To say that Americans, in general, are very fond of coffee just as Indians, in general, are chai (tea) lovers is a sweeping opinion which however has tremendous amount of truth. It is hard to imagine an Indian town without a tea shop. The same can be said about all North American towns. An American town without a Dunkin Donuts (American global Donut Company and Coffee House) and a Canadian town without a Tim Hortons (Canadian global coffee and donut restaurant) are unimaginable. Needless to say, there are many other fast food eateries like McDonalds, Swiss Chalet, Burger King, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, etc. in these countries, but I just want to refer to these two as representative restaurants to juxtapose them with our Indian fast-food shop counterparts. The idea is to highlight the scope for improvement with our business ideas and to trigger local young minds to take these enterprises seriously and tap into the potential they offer. It is about time that we revisit the concept of a Chiya-dokan/Chai Ki Dukan (tea shop) and re-strategize the enterprise to make it more attractive, organized, hygienic, futuristic or ‘up to the minute’ as they say.

If Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons and their like can become a national pride in their respective countries, why can’t our tea shops rise to that level of representing national pride globally some day? After all, tea shops are the most visited places in the country. Can we not start the process in our own state? Given Sikkim’s steady rise as a national tourism hub, it would be a great idea to lead the rest of India in revolutionizing the tea shop enterprise. India has already seen a tea shop revolution but that revolution needs to be scaled up in terms of modernization and innovation. Sikkim, leading the nation by way of application of cutting edge ideas and features in a tea shop! Sikkim can and must dream about becoming the first state in India with state of the art tea restaurants all across the state! I was quite frustrated to see how badly the government tea shops in Temi tea garden in South Sikkim are managed. Such lovely infrastructure in such a lovely location but poor maintenance has ruined them! People take government property for granted. The fast food restaurant revolution therefore must be driven by private entrepreneurs.

Interestingly enough, some Americans drink Dunkin Donuts coffee with a great sense of patriotic pride. Elite Americans associate same kind of national pride with Starbucks. Likewise, most Canadians are very proud of Tim Hortons. They even jokingly say that liking Tim Hortons is a precondition for Canadian patriotism. A full-blown addiction to Tim Hortons is the expression of your utmost Canadian jingoism!

These coffee houses have grown globally, especially in advanced countries. There are over 12,000 Dunkin Donuts restaurants in 36 countries and over 4, 600 Tim Hortons restaurants in nine countries. Fast food restaurants are also designed to serve people travelling by road. Some restaurants have drivethrough facilities for travelers. These fast food restaurants with well-trained polite workers, good service, quality drinks and food, clean washrooms and spacious parking spaces are a far cry from our tea shops.

Jiwan Rai

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