A crunchy, spicy story
I Am: Aziz Ahmed
Occupation: Pickle seller
Aziz Ahmed’s pickle store off Patherghatti is clean, well laid out and draws attention. Rows of pickle jars and papads of different shapes and sizes differentiate his store from the others in the lane. “All these pickles are sourced from women who make them at home,” he tells us. While many shops in the Old City are famous for their non-vegetarian pickles, Aziz says pickles made using vegetables constitute most of his stock. “That’s what sells more. Very few people ask for chicken or fish pickles. To an extent, there’s a demand for mutton pickle. So we stock more of lemon, mango, aloo and karela pickles,” he says.
Aziz set up his pickle shop three years ago but is an old hand in the trade. His father is a general merchant who manages another store in the vicinity. “I studied up to VI standard and then joined my father’s business. We didn’t have enough manpower to run the store and I had to pitch in,” he recalls. Does he regret not completing his studies? “Not at all. I used to spend all my leisure after school and my vacations at the store. I was happy to gets hands-on experience under my father’s guidance for 12 years. Business is what I like the most,” he says.
Aziz set up his own store with his earnings and his dad’s savings. “I am lucky to have my own store, though it’s small. The rentals in this area are pretty high, ranging from Rs. 3000 to 10,000,” says Aziz.
Ask him what sets his store apart and he says, “We source varieties of handmade papads in different flavours. There are a few batches of machine-made papads as well. But the handmade ones taste better.”
Like most small traders, Aziz will not discuss figures but says, “I earn enough to educate my four daughters and run the house. My dad and I have seen tough times and are glad that things have eased out now.”
(I Am is a fortnightly column that features men and women who make Hyderabad what it is)