If you ever get a chance to go to Ahmedabad, make sure to carve out some time to visit the Sabarmati River Front, a place where you’ll find a tea stall with the name “Ampu Tea,” proudly run by a very strong and powerful woman, Neha Bhatt. The name of her tea stall carries with it a powerful and motivating story, one that epitomises resilience and spirit to never give up.
Around two years ago in 2021, Neha Bhatt was leading a happy life, content as a dedicated teacher at a Montessori school in Gandhinagar. Life had bestowed no complaints upon her. However, fate took the most unexpected turn. On one unfortunate day, while she was travelling between Ahmedabad to Mahuva in Saurashtra, she met with an accident.
The GSRTC bus, which she was travelling in, collided with a truck coming from the opposite side. Bhatt, seated in the front row, bore the brunt of the impact and suffered critical injuries. Due to excessive bleeding, her left leg had to be amputated.
Resilient Neha refused to be defeated by adversity. She started a crowdfunding campaign and raised 10 lakh rupees to undergo medical procedures and get a prosthetic leg.
With her teaching career no longer an option, she knew she had to carve a new path for her. So she started a tea stall at the riverfront with the help of her parents. Here’s what Neha has to share with all of us:
1. How did you find the strength and motivation to move forward after such a life-changing event?
After this incident, I drew inspiration from Indian mountaineer Arunima Sinha. After losing her leg in a train accident, she did not give up and became the first female amputee to climb Mount Everest in 2013. She motivated me to go beyond my disability. After trying many things, I finally decided to set up a tea stall.
2. Could you describe the inspiration behind the name “Ampu Tea” for your tea stall?
The name “Ampu Tea” reflects my commitment to supporting the amputee community. I decided to use this term in the name of my tea stall as a symbol of solidarity with my fellow amputees. Through this name, I want to spread a powerful message that amputees can achieve remarkable feats and they are no less.
“Ampu Tea” is not just a place to enjoy a cup of tea, it’s my way of showing support to the amputee community.
3. How has running Ampu Tea impacted your life and your perspective on challenges?
Running Ampu Tea has been the best decision of my life. Before this, I was an ordinary young woman. Ampu Tea is more than just a business to me. The journey wasn’t easy at all, I faced many challenges, especially due to my disability.
My perspective towards life has changed. Starting and running this venture has taught me that with determination, we can overcome any obstacle in life.
4. Can you share a particularly heartwarming or inspiring customer interaction or story related to your tea stall?
On the very first day of starting this stall, I sold 35 cups of tea, and to my delight, a group of foodies visited my stall. They first enjoyed the tea and after that, they shot a video of my stall. Little did I know that this moment would be the catalyst for something extraordinary.
That video made me viral. News media and YouTube channels started spreading the word about my tea stall. People began visiting me, arriving in big cars and bikes with their families and friends. They not only appreciated my efforts but also offered me tight hugs. It is this warmth and love that has kept me going. Within just 11 days of starting the business, I was selling around 300 to 400 cups of tea daily.
5. Are there any future plans to expand or diversify your business?
While I experienced tremendous success in Ahmedabad, due to the increasing virality, the city’s corporation removed my stall. After a month of setbacks, I managed to secure a new location for my tea stall. However, during the monsoon season, I faced another hurdle as my prosthetic leg was not waterproof, making it difficult to operate in wet conditions. I have ordered a tea van now, which will allow me to sell tea in a mobile manner. This way, I can bring Ampu Tea to various locations and serve a broader audience.
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