Food dished out by pushcart owners is a blessing for the poor and homeless

Mohammed Hussain makes about Rs. 150 per day. With this modest income he has to educate his two children and also support his family back in Brahmagiri, a remote village near the temple town of Srisailam.

With these responsibilities, he is forced to cut his expenses to a bare minimum, which means he has to go without a roof on his head and spend just a few rupees for his food.

With skyrocketing food prices, procuring two ‘square' meals at a price that fits his budget is a Herculean task in the city. The situation faced by Hussain and others of his ilk looks bleak, but a few enterprising individuals see an opportunity in it.

Venkatesh, an uneducated youth, is one such person. He along with his brother and sister, provide meals on a non-descript pushcart near Clock Tower, Secunderabad, to hungry souls.

With a vegetarian meal costing Rs. 15 and a non-vegetarian one Rs. 20, his services have become indispensible to daily wage labourers such as Mr. Hussain for more than a decade. Though the frugal meal consists of plain rice and a curry -- either a dal, chicken, egg or liver curry -- there is no dearth of demand for this meal. “About 40 people eat regularly at my place,” says Mr. Venkatesh. On an average about 80 persons eat at his pushcart everyday.

Anjayya, who works at a nearby shop, is a regular customer. He finds the food really good. “If not for this food stall, I would have gone on an empty stomach half the days. As I know Venkatesh for long, I can afford to pay him later if I don't have money,” he says.

Stirs hit business

Mr. Venkatesh, however, says that sales at his pushcart are going down gradually, and the recent Telangana agitation and the resultant disturbances too have had an impact on his business. “Because of the agitations many daily wage workers have left Hyderabad. Otherwise, there would have been a crowd. I used to serve about 60 kg rice per day earlier, now I hardly sell some 20 kg,” he laments.

More In: Hyderabad