The Street Corner

Stories

By Kian, Class 7, Jamnabai Narsee School, Mumbai

I live a couple of blocks away from the street corner and pass by it on my way to school. I do not think that anyone pays attention to the corner in the morning. Passers-by rush off to work, too busy to pay any attention to it. Mothers are seen, taking their either happy or sleepy children to school. Some women are even going grocery shopping, with a cloth bag, and a checklist in their hands. The unmistakable way of a person going to the grocers. The street is mostly quiet and vacant, except the occasional jogger who has his headphones on, and is too engrossed in his music to notice the tiny heaps of food on the floor. Around early evening, at about 4 o’clock, a pair of vendors reach the street corner and quickly set up their stalls. They efficiently untie the little mountains of food which they had left the previous night and pour the spices in a huge utensil. Within an hour, the street corner is filled with vendors. Some sell sandwiches and some sell dosas. Other traditional mouth-watering delicacies like ‘vada pav’ and ‘pani-puri’ are made in large quantities. The aroma that originates from the street corner is as good as a human magnet.

Soon, there is mob of locals and strangers approaching the corner. Some know exactly what they are going to eat, whereas some will try a little of everything. Among the regular customers, was a family from England. There was a father, a mother, two brothers and a grandmother. All of them were extremely polite, and had a thick British accent. They were quite formally dressed, which was odd, because going to eat roadside food is quite different than dining in a 5-star restaurant. I found them trying to ask the vendor what he served in fluent English, and the vendor giving them a puzzled look. A kind, elderly gentleman finally helped translate the message between the British family and the vendor. The family bought three vada pavs, a masala dosa and a vegetable sandwich. All three of these dishes tasted absolutely delectable, and more importantly, smelt wonderful. In between the consistent sound of various dishes frying, you could hear the voices of almost a hundred people talking to each other, and placing orders.

This spectacular view of a crowd gorging down on street food, is a delight to watch and chat about. People eat and talk and then eat some more until it is 9 o’clock. This is the cue for the mosquitos to enter, the crowd to dispatch, and the tired but wholly contented vendors to mark the end of another day’s good work. Once the last customer leaves, the vendors first dump all their wastage into the large public dustbin. He now fills sacks with all the surplus food which he can use the next day. Now comes the hard part. Washing all the utensils in which he cooked the food. He does this by the help of a handy tap near his stall. He is finally done with winding up his stall. The exhausted vendor now walks home, where he will count his income before going to bed. The street corner is silent once again.

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Kian Jamnabai Narsee School