My name is Salman and I came to Madurai four years ago. I didn’t know a word of Tamil. But, three of my friends from Lucknow had made a living out of selling juice here and they supported me. Since they asked me to join them, I landed in Madurai, leaving behind my new bride. Now, I have a year-old son. Only last week I returned from home. Next year, I have plans of bringing them here.
I sell around 50 to 70 glasses of musambi juice everyday. On hot days, I even sell up to 100 glasses. But, as there are six of us running this cart, the money gets divided and it’s hardly enough to make both ends meet. We all stay in a rented dormitory on Town Hall Road. Apart from expenses here, I manage to send home a sum of Rs.7000 every month. Everyday, we friends take shifts in running the cart and procuring the fruits. We buy the musambis from the Simmakal wholesale mandi. The prices have gone up. We used to buy it for Rs.10 a kg and now we get it for Rs.30 or 40. And hence, we have hiked the price of a glass of juice from Rs.15 to RS.20.
I have finally learnt some Tamil. I understand what the customer asks for, the numbers and amount of money. We enjoy a regular customer base. I make sure, the juice is hygienic. People are friendly here. The other fruit sellers nearby are quite helpful. I like this city, except for the extreme heat. It’s pleasant now in U.P., but here the temperature hasn’t come down.
(A fortnightly column on men and women who make Madurai what it is)