I was working with a company that exported vegetables to West Asia for nearly 20 years. But when it was wound up, I had to find a new way to earn my living. Selling tapioca was the first option for me. After all Malayalis love tapioca. Besides, it is good for health and light on the pocket.
I have been doing this for the last three years. Actually I am working for a relative of mine, Kabeer, who pays me wages on a daily basis. We get the tapioca from Uchakkadavu near Vizhinjam every day. Of the 100 kg of tapioca we buy, we manage to sell 80 kg on most days.
We start from the city at 7 a.m. and return by 10 a.m. I am here till 9 p.m., though there are days when we wind up early.
A majority of our customers are those who pass by the Eenchakkal Junction in their vehicles. Then there are regular customers from Eenchakkal and Vallakkadavu. We also regularly supply tapioca to hotels. I skin and cut it into small cubes for them. Nearly 15 kg are sold like that daily to a nearby hotel where they serve it with lunch. Fridays are holidays.
Now tapioca is sold at Rs. 30 per kg; it was priced at Rs. 10 when we started out. There are days when we get bulk orders, especially for weddings.
I stay at Vallakkadavu and I am happy with my job. I earn enough for my family comprising wife, Jaheera, and sons, Mohammed Sufiyan and Mohammed Yusuf. I was abroad for a few years and had to come back to India following visa problems. I have applied again and might go, provided there are no legal hassles.
Till then I plan to continue this business, for tapioca can never go out of the menu of Malayalis.
(A weekly column on men and women who make Thiruvananthapuram what it is)