Prakash Poojari’s small hole-in-the-wall go-to paan-patti shop is located round the corner of a busy restaurant. You might miss it unless you look carefully to see a group of people casually chatting over a smoke. Customers congregate around his shop to contemplate or discuss their day with friends. Prakash is busy either serving customers or arranging his shop. “Where do you get your supplies from?” I ask. “They are delivered at my shop,” he says. “It’s become routine,” he adds.
It is no secret that the police tend to harass small shop owners, but Prakash says that he faces no such problem because his shop has been around for 10 years now. Asked if he earns profit from his business, Prakash says: “Not much. I do earn a modest amount, but I don’t make much profit.”
Although cigarettes are the most sold item, if you peer into Prakash’s tiny, yet neatly arranged shop, besides a noticeable bunch of bananas, packets of ghutka and paan, you would find biscuits, murukkus, pencils, sachets of anti-dandruff shampoos and miscellaneous items peep out from every corner. “Do people buy these?” I ask pointing at the biscuits, Prakash smiles and says, “Some times.”
The shop has a garland of magazines and dailies in Kannada and English. Just then a customer approaches Prakash and asks in Kannada, “Daily kodi” (give me a newspaper). The customer says he buys dailies from Prakash’s store every weekend. “This is the only shop that sells dailies. No other shop, big or small, does so.” Tiny though his shop maybe, Prakash speaks with pride about it. “I look forward to running my shop everyday from 6. 30 a.m. till 10 at night.”
In this last decade has he seen any changes in Bangalore? “Yes, it has changed a lot.” How? I ask, “The number of customers have reduced,” is all he has to say.