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The real Slumdog Millionaire: From chai to crorepati

Written by Hannan

The real “Slumdog Millionaire” is now at the helm of his own multi-million-pound company in England after leaving his home in southern India with just £600 to his name, The Sun reported

Rupesh Thomas, 39, supplies luxurious Harvey Nicholas with his Tuk Tuk Chai tea after starting his working life in England on £4 an hour at McDonald’s when he was 23.

The millionaire says he was obsessed with everything English from cold weather to the people which lead him to leave his home in Kerala, Southern India, to start a life in London.

Enterprising Rupesh borrowed money from his father and sold his prize motorbike for £300 to buy a one-way ticket to the UK and started his new life in lodgings in Stratford, East London. The businessman, who now lives in a £1 million house, said: “I am proof that if you work hard you can be successful.

“I really am a real-life Slumdog Millionaire.” Remarkably Rupesh still has his passport which gives details of how much money he arrived with. His obsession with England was kick-started by his father travelling a lot for work as he was employed by a travel company in the Middle East.

He added: “My father had a picture of London and I would look at it. I desperately wanted to be there.

“I dreamed of a better life. And, for me, that life was in England.” Rupesh now lives in Wimbledon, South London, with his wife Alexandra, 37, and their seven-year-old son Kian.

His life now is a far cry from when he landed in England on January 20, 2002, and took a job a McDonald’s working long days for just £4 an hour to pay his father back for his loan.

Undeterred by the hard work, he went on to become a carer, then a door-to-door salesman despite only one knock in every 300 would be successful. He said: “It was a lesson in how to keep smiling while being rejected.”

His positive attitude led to him being promoted at the company to team leader, and through the job, he met his wife Alexandra before being headhunted for another company. The pair were married in both France, her native country, and his hometown, Kerala in 2007.

It was in India that Alexandra fell in love with Chai tea, a passion that would lead to the duo making their fortune.

Rupesh said: “Alexandra loves chai tea.

“When we’re in India she’ll drink up to 10 cups a day. And they make it in the UK, but it’s very sugary, it’s not made from tea leaves.”

He added: “I started thinking and saving, wondering if I could start producing it.”

In 2015 they invested their £150,000 savings and took a gamble which paid off. By March 2017 Harvey Nichols began stocking their tea in several of their UK stores, and in December Rupesh signed a deal with Sainsbury’s and his tea hit the mass market.

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