The recently released 'Miss India", starring Keerthy Suresh, is about a woman who chases her dream of becoming a succcesfull entrepreneur by starting a "chai" (tea) business.
It would not be a stretch to call Kalaasari the Malaysian version of "Miss India", albeit a saree-wearing one.
The woman has been selling piping hot masala tea off the back of her bicycle around Seremban town in Negeri Sembilan the past few months, and business is booming.
Free Malaysia Today (FMT) spoke to the woman, fondly known to many as Miss Seremban Masala Tea, or even Tea Mami, to find out what motivated her to venture into such a bold venture.
According to her, she had already been planning to run her own business for some time, before financial woes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic hit her.
"I thought it was the right time to start this business.
"It was my own decision, preparation, initiative and idea," Kalaasari, who previously worked for a local law firm for 20 years, told the portal.
As for why she decided to sell tea, Kalaasari said it is because she loves the beverage, and her recipe even incorporates Indian herbs, fresh cow's milk, and jaggery - a traditional Indian palm sugar, as an alternative to white sugar.
Despite the healthy ingredients that go into making the tea, the beverage is sold at only RM1 a cup.
Kalaasari sells an average of 100 cups a day and she also recently began selling vadai for 50 sen each.
Her day typically starts at 4am, as the tea takes two hours to boil, to bring out its flavours. Once it's brewed, Kalaasari starts peddling her trade outside the Seremban market from 7am to 10am, before quickly returning home for lunch and replenish her tea stock.
She then heads outside the Church of the Visitation in town, to hawk tea from 4pm to 6.30pm.
As for why she is clad in a saree, Kalaasari said she has always loved the traditional Indian attire - having worn it throughout her office life, and she has no plans to give in on the habit yet.
According to her further, she also prefers to move around on a bicycle, instead of doing business from a fixed location (shop), as the former option allows her to remain mobile and sell her tea, instead of burdening her customers with the chores of looking for a parking.
"I like to meet people. In one day, I can meet all kinds of people. I like to mingle around and I enjoy what I'm doing," she said.
Kalaasari's advise for aspiring entrepreneurs is "be brave, don't be shy about anything."
If you enjoyed reading about Kalaasari's tea venture, you may also want to read about mechanical engineering graduate Kavievanan Subramaniam, who ventured into a similar business after he had difficulties finding a job during the COVID-19 pandemic, here.
Photo source: FMT
Tue Feb 02 2021