4 Apr 2016


One is sort of pretty and the other is pretty plain but both are decked to the nines – bangles and bindi, mogra in slicked-back hair, dupattas pinned to the shoulders, and all business. 

They have one little table that is maybe a foot high. One giant casserole with plastic sticking out the edges rest on one side of the carefully spread newspaper. On the other side, there is a sombu of spicy tomato chutney. It is not too spicy though, just two dried red chillies for maybe 300 ml of chutney. Hits the right note going down my gullet though. They also have the small gas burner… the one with the fat, red bottom and the stove bit sticking out of its neck. Much more grubby looking than the picture, though. 

They sit by the side of the dhobi’s shop in the evenings and make kuzhi paniyaram/ paddu. They work the chatty non-stop and hustle every evening. They even have a little handwritten paper announcing their existence to the world and all.

Sucker that I am for paniyaram, I threw my light-dinner-resolutions into the next drain, walked up to them and asked them how much a plate costs. They said something that sounded like “fifty”. I checked my purse and asked for two plates to be parceled – I had only one 100-rupee note. The sort-of-pretty one packs the stuff while I hand over the note to the other one. Then I take my parcel and walk away. 

That’s when both of them call out in panic – “change vaangittu pongo!” (take your change!). I turn around with a surprised crinkle on my face and they hand me back 70 rupees. They worked out that I’d thought a plate costs fifty (and not fifteen) and were aghast – “we would never charge 50 rupees for a plate of paddu!!!!”

I haven’t felt this bad this year – these girls have been at a disadvantage in Bangalore from the get-go, solely because they do not have the ability to call what they make “Lightly Spiced Crispy Rice Cakes with A Side of Fresh Tomato Relish” so that they can charge me a hundred bucks a plate.