I like what I do, hard work is always necessary.
Tea-time at the intersection under the Vijaya Bank off the Sanjay Nagar Main Road, is the busiest and most eagerly awaited. Cars and bikes; people — office-goers, college students, teenagers, mothers with children in tow queue up for evening snacks from four carts selling fresh chaat right off the street, which has been named Chaat Street by a student from a nearby college.
The street is basically just four carts of chaat, where quality, one assumes must mean more than just numbers. Each cart is spread around the intersection of the four streets, maintaining a respectable distance from each other.
According to a few friends, Sanjay Nagar residents and regulars at the carts, the cart that stands out for its taste is Chandrasekhar’s.
Chandrasekhar, 43, originally from a farming family, migrated to Bangalore over 10 years ago hoping to earn a steady living. “Farming was hard work, we had to spend a lot of time working in the sun. We were dependent on rain, business was good only when it rained. So I moved to the city because I wanted to do my own business.”
After working for a few years at a local restaurant where he learnt the craft of chaat making (in Gedelahalli, Sanjay Nagar), Chandrasekhar acquired his cart. Ask him why a cart, and he says rather shyly yet, matter-of-factly, “Pani puri comes in stalls like this.”
His menu includes most of the chaat regulars: pani puri, masala puri, dahi puri, aloo puri, sev puri and bhel puri among a few more, each at an average of Rs 20 (those are the area rates for street chaat). And his specialities are pani puri and dahi puri, though he is also quite happy with his bhel puri.
Come dinner time and the crowd swells, people even place their orders and come back later to collect parcels, while passing by in their vehicles.
What makes his chat special? “People like to eat chaat and we make good chaat, it is fresh. That’s why.”
Chandrasekhar’s prep, in Masterchef terms, begins at home at 9 a.m. when he puts together all his key ingredients so that they will be ready to serve when people start coming.
Chandrasekhar receives a minimum of 80 to 90 customers a day. He has two employees, whom he trained and business is steady
“I like what I do, hard work is always necessary. But I only make a profit of about Rs 400. It is not sufficient,” he says. He is responsible for his wife and two children, who are still in school.
But he has plans for expansion. “I have been thinking about opening another stall somewhere else, but I am yet to work on it.”