My hot, steaming bajjis and bondas serve as breakfast for the audience who throng the KG Big Cinemas premises for the morning show. They quickly buy a pack of them and rush in for the film. Before they run off, the youngsters quiz me about the film.
They ask me the story and how good the songs and stunt scenes are. If I have watched the movie, I give them an honest review. They feel I get to watch a movie every day, since I am working next to the movie theatre. I do watch them, occasionally. But KG Theatre screens few Malayalam films.
I am a big fan of Malayalam films. My favourite star is Mammootty. I like Suriya too.
I have been working here for the past 20 years. There was not so much traffic, when I first came here. There were not many ladies too, who came to the movie hall. Now, this place is crowded with college girls.
The bajjis and bondas are made of maida batter and deep fried. They are quite filling and the audience does not feel hungry for a good three hours. They cost Rs.7 each. But, the most popular item in my shop is inippu bonda. It gets its name from its sweet taste. It is made of maida, egg and sugar.
My family belongs to Perinthalmanna district in Kerala. But, I was born and brought up in Coimbatore. I learnt to make bondas when I was 21. I have also worked as a daily wage labourer. I live with my wife and children.
My day begins at seven in the morning and ends at seven in the evening. After that, the air here fills with the aroma of panipuris and cauliflower and mushroom noodles.
There are two or three bakery outlets here. I work for one of them, that has a separate bonda-bajji counter.
I am friends with all the employees here. Our biggest stress-buster is watching films. It is a picnic time for all of us when our owners give us a day off. We straight away march to the ticket counter at the KG Theatre to book a show of the latest release. While watching films, I am fully immersed in the story. I clap, whistle and even dance. To those who raise eyebrows, I ask them, “When your favourite star is on screen, how can you stay still?”
(K.V Johnson sells bondais and bajjis at a bakery in front of KG Big Cinemas, Race Course)