P.D. Diwakaran has no big dreams, being content with running a small teashop in Tripunithura. But, the clientele of this unassuming man would be the envy of any entrepreneur, with customers from even far-off places thronging his shop. And the eatables are sold out as soon as they are made. But Mr. Diwakaran refuses to make more of the savouries, saying he is happy with what he earns and does not want to put members of his family who help him in the business, to the stress of overwork.
The signature item on offer at Mr. Diwakaran’s shop is the parippu vada (deep fried lentil cakes) which has got him customers from far.
Mr. Diwakaran looks perplexed by all the attention his shop at West Choorakkad in Tripunithura is drawing. Though he would not lack customers any time, Mr. Diwakaran does not want to change the way things have always been at his shop. “I won’t be able to cater to more than what I do today”, he says. “I just want to continue as long as my body permits”, he says.
Adding to the popularity of Mr. Diwakaran’s shop are the low prices he charges. Vada or pazhampori (ripe banana coated in batter and deep fried) or dosa costs just Rs. 2. Asked how he could manage not to hike the prices, he says, “Oh, but I have. These are the latest prices”.
The teashop boasts no modern kitchen and uses firewood for fuel. “It comes cheaper and the cost of the groceries from the regular wholesaler makes the raw materials a little bit cheaper,” he says.
Mr. Diwakaran’s wife Sarala and his two sons help him in the task. Everyone joins in to get the breakfast ready when the teashop opens at 7.45 a.m. “I don’t have to pay rent nor is there any helper around. The success of my shop is the joint effort,” he says. It is idly, dosa or puttu for breakfast, with the accompanying chutney, sambhar or Bengal gram curry. A cup of tea costs Rs. 6 and black tea is charged Rs. 4. Curries cost Rs. 5 for a serving. Breakfast closes at 11 a.m.
The famous parippuvada is served only one day of the week. Mr. Diwakaran prepares just 600 of them and no more for the day. Pazhampori is the fare for five days, while on Saturday, it is undampori (deep fried dough balls mixed with jaggery). There are uzhunu vadas, sawalavadas and mulaku vadas on other days.
“Earlier, we used to keep the shop open on Sundays too, but then it turned out to be a hectic affair for the family,” says Mr. Diwakaran.
The hot vadas are sold out within an hour and a half. Though tea is served till late in the evening, the savouries served from 2.30 p.m. get over by 3.30 p.m. There are some regulars for whom he keeps aside some snacks.
Mr. Diwakaran started the shop 33 years ago with his father P.S. Doothan on one cent of land that came his way as family property. The earnings from the teashop helped him to buy two cents of land adjacent to his shop where he built his house.