VFS customer at her tea stall

Debi Rani Barman

Bengal woman shows how hard work pays

If you happen to drive to Balurghat, headquarters of West Bengal’s South Dinajpur district, halt for a cup of tea and bakery biscuits at Patiram. Debi Rani Barman’s tea shop is popular with drivers of long-distance buses, trucks and others halting near Taltala More petrol pump, around 10km short of Balurghat.

Debi Rani, 40, began the business in 2008, spurred by the need for a living after her husband left her with two children to feed. Debi Rani’s brothers helped her open the shop on their family property, right by the road. Two years ago, she turned up at the Patiram branch of Village Financial Services for a loan.

The shop stocks a range of bakery biscuits and snacks. Debi Rani also sells hair oils, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and other things that a motorist or truck driver could need. Patiram is on the highway connecting Kolkata with Balurghat.

Debi Rani visits the nearby Taltola and Chowrangi markets to stock her shop. She uses paper cups, which she buys by the bundle. A kg of tea lasts her a week, and she also uses around 10 litres of milk a day.

Debi Rani says she makes a monthly profit of Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000. Sales are highest in winter. The COVID19 lockdowns that began in March 2020 were bad for her business, but she is recovering now.

Her shop is open from 6 am to 10 pm throughout the year, except in winter, when it opens earlier as the biting cold makes more drivers stop for a cup of hot tea.

Debi Rani is happy that she has managed to put her children through school. Her daughter got married shortly after Class 10, while her son is in Class 7. Debi Rani had to drop out after Class 5, so she ensured that her children did better. Her parents and her brothers helped her look after the children.

Published on Oct 29, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022