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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Cooking on the road is not allowed in Mumbai

Hawkers in India are discouraged from cooking on the streets in Mumbai and there are regular inspections by police to ward them off. But they are back, after a day of rest, to do their business in an illegal way. And it is for us that they are willing to take the risk of being whisked off again and again. But then we are always looking for an easy way out. Today, for example, during my morning errands to the market and the bank, I thought of making radish-brinjal vegetable as soon as I would reach home. As I crossed the street to enter my lane, I saw this hawker selling Vada Samber, and I was tempted to patronize him. The fragrance of the fried Vada is very tempting. My cooking plans got postponed. I turned a blind eye to the unhygenic envirnoments surrounding this hawker, so strong was the fragrance of the fried Vadas. The pocket that was made for planting flowers, on the side of the road, was used by this hawker as a mini kitchen, where he had this huge frying pan. He had prepared the batter at home and he served the hot, freshly fried Vadas to his clients. While I waited for him to fry the Vadas, I decided to click few pictures. The hawker got panicky and hesitantly asked me the motives behind my clicking the pictures. He requested me not to make trouble for him by exposing his illegal business and even refused to charge me for the Vada Sambar that I had bought from his stall. I refused to take the free meal and asked him to relax, I was in no mood to report him. How much easier it must be for the policeman to turn a blind eye to such illegal food stalls, if the hawkers are in the habit of providing free meals to every person, who they fear, can put them out of business?

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