The migration workers dine on my panipuris. They lose count of the number of plates but they always leave with a satisfied smile.
I hail from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. It is the most beautiful place in the world. I came to Coimbatore, when I was 18. I came with my friend, who is also a panipuri seller. Money was not in my mind then. I just wanted to be with him.
When he told me we could do good business selling panipuris here, I immediately agreed. I trusted him. I knew he would only wish well for me.
I like Coimbatore and its people. All of them are friendly to me. Coimbatore has beautiful weather too. It is a peaceful city. I have been here for two years. But I have not been able to pick up Tamil.
There are many panipuriwallahs on this road like me. All of them are from Uttar Pradesh. Eight of us stay in a room in Gandhipuram. We wake up five in the morning to make puris, masala and pani. I come here by three in the afternoon and we stay till nine. By evening, the street mills with people. I get best business during weekdays.
There are many North Indians in this lane. Every evening, they come here to have my panipuris.
My panipuris have a loyal following among the Tamilians too. By around four in the evening, my stall is crowded with corporates, hungry school children and slum dwellers. They tuck in at least four to five plates of my panipuris. The migration workers dine on my panipuris. They lose count of the number of plates but they always leave with a satisfied smile.
I have both sweet and spicy puris. It is served with a dash of aloo masala and onions. Each plate costs Rs. 10. Most of the Tamilians like it spicy. Very few adults ask for the sweet puri. But the children love them.
During the Holi festival, we go to our village. There, the festival is celebrated with pomp and splendour. We sing, dance and splash colours on each other. Unlike other cities, the colours used in Jhansi are not artificial. They are completely safe for your skin.
I miss my home a lot. I am just 20 and I am away from my folks and friends. I miss my mother and brothers the most. But then, I have my friends here. We stay like a family. They make sure I never feel home-sick.