If you live in India or have ever traveled to India in the second decade of 21st century, you would have found a lot of places having fancy street foods, specially, in the metropolitan cities like, New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
If you exclude the posh areas of New Delhi and NCR(National Capital Region), and then walk on a very normal street/roads which connects welfare housing societies, you are likely to easily spot the following roadside options like, Ice-Cream tricycles, Open roof stalls of Sugarcane Juice, roasted corn and maybe the push-truck(thela) tickiwala(also called, Chaatwala).
An addition to this group is the roadside “Gol-Gappe”(also called PaniPuri). Now, what’s PaniPuri? It consists of a round, hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water (known as imli pani), tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion or chickpeas. The complete setup on which Gol-Gappe, Pani and other spices are placed is very easy to carry and move, and also can be quickly placed anywhere and can start selling it back. Now you are thinking, why I am writing about all this stuff? Here’s why.
Every evening when I am traveling back home from work, in the last part of the transit I have to make a 20 minutes walk to get to my apartment. In these 20 minutes, starting from getting down from the auto, finding the Panwari(guy who sells Paan, which is made up of betel leaf with areca nut) and cigarettes(which is sold more than the paan these days), interestingly, his wife also sits during late hours to keep the business up. Some 200 steps ahead, I find the Ice-Cream tricycles from Vadilal, Kwality Walls, Creambell and newly famous Havmor, which is expensive to my pocket. 😛
After 5 minutes, I find a little boy selling Gol-Gappe at the corner of the right turn of the road. I walk towards him, and ask for the rates. He replies, “4 pieces for 10 bucks”. I said, “Can I have it?”, he offers me a dona(which is a paper bowl). The Panipuri tasted amazing!! 😀
Yesterday evening, I left early from work and while getting back home, I met the boy again. He is 3/4 of my height, considering I am not tall, so he looks short. He should be around 10-12 years of age. I asked him, “What’s your name?”. He replies with a smile, “Vansh Gupta”. I asked him if he goes to school, he replies “Yes, I go to school”. With a thought on how he gets time to study, I asked “When you study or do your homework?”, he says “during night, after having dinner”.
I asked him if I can take his picture which I will share on internet with my writing. He shakes his head with a smile. 🙂 I said “Okay, can I take picture of your setup?” And he says “Yes” this time. I also checked with him, “So, where are you from and who else are you in your family?”, to which he replies, “I am Mirzapur(in Uttar Pradesh), and here I have my father and brother who also sell Gol-Gappe, whereas my mother lives in hometown(Mirzapur)”.
He has friends of same age. They also sell Gol-Gappe. One is Rajkumar and another is Komal. I have ate Panipuri from them too. 🙂 Komal is the smart one, like a leader among these boys. I think he likes momos because I have found him eating momos a couple of times. Whereas, Vansh is the good-looking one. But they all are very simple and happy going boys. 🙂
At the age of 12, helping family to earn enough so as to get one time meal is really unbelievably appreciable. Just think about the sacrifices they have been making, like missing their mother, not playing outside in evening so that they help their father and surely not able to spend enough time to learn and study so that in future they don’t need to sell Panipuri.
The least you can offer is a Smile 🙂 to them, do not see them as someone lesser than you and just be good and motivate everyone around you. Life is not easy for everyone.