InOnIt Lens: Decoding The Monsoons Vol III
P.Dev has been standing with his Chai Bhajjia stall since 1981 right opposite Khamdenu Mall, Andheri West.
“Uncle, do you manage to make more sales during the monsoon?”
“No, why do you say that?”
“Well, because everyone craves hot bhajjias and chai even more during the rains. That’s why I asked.”
“No beta” he said with a smile on his face that clearly certified me as naïve.
“Why is that not true?”
“Yes, people do enjoy bhajjia’s and chai in the rain but they mostly make them at home. No one will come outside in this weather.” He paused to attend to a customer, and meanwhile I took my first bite of the ‘schezwan bhajjia pav’.
“During the rains everyone tries to stay indoors, so we tend to lose a lot of business. During lunch time, we get some business from the labourers who come in to have something but otherwise who will want to stand in the rain, get all wet and have bhajjias?”
So there I stand corrected again. After visiting around four Chai and Bhajiawallas in the city, almost everyone had the same opinion. I chose to showcase this story because he is a veteran and also has some very good bhajia’s and great company for evening tea.
Note- Try the ‘cheese schezwan onion pakoda’ with hot coffee. Rain or no rain, it is a guaranteed mouth-watering deal.
12 To Feed
Mr. R. Vishnu sits outside Hanging Gardens, Malabar hill.
I got to speak to him when I was stuck in the rain and had to take shelter in one of the stalls selling handbags in front of the garden.
He told me he doesn’t always sit here, only during the rains when it is difficult to carry around the tray of peanuts. I didn’t have to speak further, probably because he figured my curiosity to hear his story. He has 5 brothers; they all live in the same slum and pitch in the money they earn. Because of their joint effort they manage to make ends meet.
“We have always thought of going back to Uttar Pradesh but somehow life feels better here. In Mumbai even if I consciously know I am only selling peanuts, I am somehow assured that my children won’t go to bed hungry, somehow there will be a place that will offer food. Mumbai has that vibe that screams ummeed (hope). Even if we have 12 children in all to feed, I know it is possible in Mumbai.”
He smiled and paused for a while. I too remained silent.
He looked up and said to me “Toh ab garam garam chane khaoge, baarish mein bilkul kamaal hote hain!” (So will you buy some peanuts now? They are absolutely perfect during the rains.)
I laughed and went back with 2 cones of peanuts and a free heart-warming story about Mumbai locals.
- Margaret Jeyaraj