I am…Nandita P.R.

Nandita P.R.Photo: Liza George

Nandita P.R.Photo: Liza George   | Photo Credit: Liza George


Occupation: Sells dosa/idli batter

Would you like a packet of dosa/idli batter? It’s Rs. 27 for one kg of batter. By the way, the batter is homemade; I make it myself. The batter contains the usual ingredients: rice, split black lentils, fenugreek seeds… There are no preservatives and the batter is naturally fermented. I soak the ingredients overnight and grind it late in the morning at a friend’s house as I don’t have the strength to grind it in my stone grinder. I then divide the batter in unbranded plain plastic bags tied up with rubber bands. I make sure everything is done in hygienic conditions.

I have been setting up shop here, in front of my house at Ambalamukku for the last three years. It’s nothing fancy, just a rickety plastic table and a chair. I am here from 4 p.m. until the last packet of batter is sold. At times, that can be till 9 p.m. I am not afraid sitting here on my own as there are a lot of shops nearby.

I don’t sell many packets, just 10 to 15. Most of my customers are those who are on their way back from work. The ready-to-cook batter reduces the cumbersome part of the work for customers, especially working women. The customers either buy the batter for dinner, or for breakfast the next day as it it’s a quick and healthy eat to prepare.

Nearly all my customers are regulars. Sometimes, some of them request an extra packet or two when guests are expected at their homes. Although there is demand, I can’t cater to it as I don’t have any help at home.

My life has not been a bed of roses. I have been down with various illnesses from a young age. I studied at Government Girls' Higher Secondary School, Peroorkada, till class 8. I had to drop out for various reasons.

My father ran an electrical store nearby and I used to assist him. He died recently fromcancer. I also used to sell crockery and glassware then but stopped as business was dismal. As my husband and I do not see eye to eye, I have moved out of our home. Our daughter, however, is with him, and I miss her terribly.

I now sell dosa batter to make a living. I occasionally supplement my income by selling homemade candles. Each packet contains 10 candles. I sell it for Rs. 70 per packet.

As I live alone, I do things at my own pace. Mornings are usually spent at temples and doing my household chores. After lunch and a quick siesta, I set up the table for the day’s sale. I don’t spend much time watching television. After my day’s sales, I soak the ingredients for the next day’s batter and head to bed.

Although I suffer various illnesses, I need to carry on selling dosa/idli batter so that I can stand on two feet; I dislike relying on handouts. I am in my early forties and intend to work like this until I see my daughter settled in life. Do you really need to take my photo for your article? I have a problem with the nerves around my eye and will not photograph well… Oh well, if you insist…

(A weekly column on men and women who make Thiruvananthapuram what it is)

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 10:55:03 PM |

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