Dashrath from Allahabad

Pitching his pani puri stand beneath an umbrella, Dashrath awaits his customers. It’s 3pm. They will trickle in within half an hour. Students who walk back from school. The parents who pick their children after school and walk back home. Labourers, college students, housewives  and almost everybody else. A  scooter is parked behind in the shade. That is my brother’s, he says. His stall in right in front of the mall. You can see him from here.

A shining aluminium vessel holds pani  and neatly prepped puris adorn his stall. The shining blue canopy  perched on his cycle just about covers his stall. Everything is neatly covered.

We are a dozen, he says talking about his family. There are three of us brothers in the city.  All of us  sell pani puri.  And we make our own puris. That’s why ours are tastier. The puris are crunchy but are  not hard.

I look pointedly  at the vessel containing pani into which he was  dipping the puri held in a gloved hand. We use only bisleri water. He said quickly. I could have kept the can here, you know, just to reasasure my customers.

On a sunday I make  about 1600 rupees and  on other days it varies between  Rs. 500 to 600. We stay at MG road, in a small rented room.Once we reach home, my elder brother cooks dinner for all of us. We help him out. After that, we fry the puris. We can get ready made puris, but they don’t taste good, especially the machine made ones.

What do you do with the money? I ask. We send the money back home.It is not safe to keep it here.My mother manages the account. When do you go home? I want to know. Well, not frequently. It’s very far. We are from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, you know.

He is well turned out. His sun tanned bright face and his shining eyes hold dreams for a bright and happy future. It does not matter to him that he is working at an age when he should be in school. He is proud of what he does. The customers?  They are usually polite .Even when I  say, I don’t have change. Can I make it for Rs 20 instead of 15? They usually agree. As it is the pani puri that I sell are mouth watering.

Now, that’s Dasarath from Allahabad.If you come to Yellanahalli, here in  South Bangalore, you could taste his  crunchy pani puris which are sweet, sour, tangy and spicy all at the same time. And surely, you are going to come back for more.

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