Cat out of the bag!

street food

I am sure that everyone is aware of the street food in India. Every city, every locality has its set of kiosks for the street food. Selling the local favorites to the more common ones like the panipuris, bhel puri, chat etc… Like everybody else I love panipuris. I have atleast a plate of them every day. I mean what’s not to love about them. The fried crisp puri with the stuffing of flavored spicy potatoes and lentils + tangy sauce + crisp onions + mint chilies coriander flavored water = heaven in mouth.


So as usual I was at my favorite kiosk gorging on my beloved panipuris and all of sudden I see that he is trying to empty the kiosk and is moving the kiosk away. I looked around and others were doing the same as well. I was wondering what happened and what is causing the commotion and fear! I still had 2 more panipuris to finish my plate and of course my beloved sukha (dry Pani Puri i.e. just the puri and filling) was left. But the vendor had hid his kiosk and had vanished. He did not even bother collecting his money from me.

Then I noticed that there was a huge municipality truck parked  a block away with about 4 workers guarding the truck and a few unlucky vendors who were unsuccessful in hiding their kiosks were pleading them to return their kiosk which is their livelihood. I have seen this happen before. This is not uncommon at all. But this time I wanted to know why they do what they do. So I walked to them. I gathered my courage and innocence and asked them what happened and why did they take away the kiosks. This was the following conversation:

Me: Bhaiya aapne inka dukan kyun utha liya? (Why did you take away their kiosk?)

The Guy: Yeh illegal hai. Yeh log paise nahi dete aur dukan khol lete hain. (This is illegal. They don’t pay money and yet open the business.)

Me: par bhaiya bina municipality ko paisa diya yeh log dukan nahi khol sakte na. (Without paying the municipality they cannot open their business)

The Guy: Nahi municipality ko nahi humko. Yeh hafta nahi dete toh hum inki dukan le ja rahe hain. (No not to the municipality but to us. If they don’t pay us weekly security money we take away their kiosks)

Me: oh! Toh aap is jungle ke raja hai sher! (So you are the king of this jungle. The Lion)

The Guy: Nahi madam hum to chuhon ki colony ke billi hai. Aur billi ko ghanta pehnana har kisi ke bas ki baat nahi. (No Madam I am the cat in this rat’s colony. And not everybody can bell the cat)

Me: I smiled and said bhaiya billi toh sift khati hai aur soti hai. Shayad aap sahi bol rahe ho. Aur bhaiya aap dusoro ka paisa khakar aapna ghar chelate ho. Aap sahi ho. Ap billi hi ho. (I smiled and said that cats only eat and sleep. Probably you are right. And Sir, you eat somebody else’s money and earn for your house so probably you are a cat.)

And I walked away.


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