Mother serves chai to the family

I have been fortunate to have several wonderful mothers in my life.  My grandmother, mother and aunts were all strong and important influences on me.

My grandmother had a tough life, growing up in a tiny poverty stricken village in Western India.  She married very young, left her family and moved to British East Africa in the early 1930’s. There, she raised four children spanning twenty odd years in a time of great instability. 

Bipin and grandmother

My mother was her oldest daughter and I was raised with a large extended family in Uganda, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who were more like siblings.  I have many strong memories of my tough little grandmother.

Bipin, brother and cousins

One of my earliest memories is of my grandmother surprising me with a baby’s milk bottle that was wrapped with a towel or small cloth. As I went to suckle on the milk bottle she took the towel off the bottle to reveal that the bottle was partly full of bugs. After some hysterics, I never drank out of a baby bottle again! I could not have been more than around 3 years old. My mother and grandmother had no doubt conspired to ‘help’ me get off the childish habit and onto drinking from a glass. Well, it worked!  She was a tough disciplinarian for someone under five feet tall, but it was easy to forgive her.  Underneath it all, she had a heart of gold.

My grandmother was a culinary magician, able to blend seasonal vegetables with spices to create amazing dishes that are still discussed by our family decades later.  How clearly I remember picnics on beautiful Lake Victoria with childhood friends and family on Sunday afternoons!  One of my favorite memories is with the delicious dishes prepared by my grandmother, mother and aunts. In a time when Old World cooking knowledge and skills are dying out to convenience, I feel very fortunate to have had some of that knowledge handed down to me.  In essence, it’s that experience that led to Tipu’s Chai.


“Enjoy in health!”    Bipin Patel, founder, Tipu’s Chai

  • Posted by Varada


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