Summer fun, summer sun.
Shiny days! Corn maze.
Bhutta !!! An ideal soul food for a Delhi belly. Corn, the bhutta in Delhi lingo, whose eating sensation is delicious and fulfilling, is also something so healthy and inexpensive.
I used to stop my car in front of one of the Road side corn sellers on my way back from office to home. Initially, I did not have any choice of vendors, but gradually one street vendor pulled me more. One old lady with her grandson used to sell the corns.
45 degrees Celsius summer temperature. Bhutta on live coals! With a never stopping smile, the boy used to keep breezing the bhuttas with a paper fan continuously. A bag of black salt and lemons nearby. He used to roast the ears of the corns to the customer’s requirement: burnt, or only slightly seared to preserve the sweetness of the fresh corn, or moderately done.What was the cost?....just Rs. 10 for one bhutta!
Boy’s name was Raju. He was a class V student in an MCD school. Summer vacation time. And, he was extremely excited to help his grandma in selling the bhuttas. He had no one except his grandma. Raju lost his parents in a train accident while they had once gone to their village in Bihar. Raju’s father used to sell pani puri in front of Centrestage mall and his mother used to sit with the buttas next to his father’s stall. After the unfortunate incident, one neighbor uncle bought the pani puri stall from his grandma at Rs. 500.
“That was a good deal.” Grand ma said.
“I go to the Ghaziabad wholesale market with my this uncle only. He never charges, even a single penny.” Raju said.
“Infact, uncle buy me some jalebi while coming back from the market.” Sign of gratitude in Raju’s eyes.
Initially, Raju and grandma used to sit in front of the Centrestage mall only. But one unknown bhaiya put one bright-coloured kiosks just next to their place, for selling corn — peeled, picked, steamed, seasoned and buttered — in paper mugs. The hygiene conscious crowd started buying sweet corns from the kiosk. So, there was a straight downfall in Raju and Grandma’s profit. Someone from their basti suggested to shift their selling place. Since then, they put their stand in the road side.
“Initially, we used to get Rs.100- 150 as profit.” Grand ma said.
“Now we come early and go back late as my summer vacation is going on. Our profit sometimes goes to Rs. 500 now. …..I wish as if it becomes ‘A Never Ending Summer’.” Raju added with a mixture of excitement and sigh.
Great! At Raju’s age while the children were busy in grooming up, harnessing their skills in children’s summer camp, or may be climbing up the mango trees, or swimming in the river, enjoying hayrides, navigating corn mazes, or eating sugarcane right off the fields…, he was sweating badly, but continuously putting bhuttas on the bed of smoldering coal. And serving his customers with his brilliant welcoming smile.
Few more buyers were standing beside me.
“Beta, thoda aaur black salt dena. Thoda lemon bhi daal dena.”
“Chotu! Thoda aaur jala dena side side me.”