An Interview With The Paanwala

Nitesh Tayal
Published on: November 2011
Buying Paan is something many of them in India do. Talking to the Paanwala, however is something that doesn't occur to most. The founder of IU, Sujit Lalwani, struck conversation with one such paanwala here, and what followed was an appointment for an interview of the Paanwala.

I was assigned the task, and three days later, on a Friday evening, I go to Barton Center, MG Road, and he's all set to talk. He's standing at his usual place-yes, imagine, he stands for the entire time there-and of course I was curious to know what story this man had to tell.

I ask him to talk about his early life:

Mr.Sureshchand Duvey, born on the 8th of April, 1965, completed BA in 1982 Varanasi, India. He worked in the Hand looms Development Corporation, Varanasi, as a Branch Manager and got transferred to Davangere from the company four years later. In 1990, he came to Bangalore and almost a decade and a half later, the company suffered huge losses and he did not get salary for several months. "My life started then", he quips. Having two daughters pursuing BBM and a son at school, a decent sum of money is undoubtedly a necessity.
an interview with paanwala,india
After leaving Hand Looms Development Corporation, he planned to start with a small Paan shop which he opened in front of a restaurant near Malabar Gold Commercial Street. Unfortunately, the restaurant was running in loss and they had to shut i down. So he had to shut down his paan shop. Adding to the point he gave an example: There is no point if florists sit in front of a closed temple.

Tiffin(lunch/meals) Business, Family, Life: He started again with an idea of providing Tiffin to people with a per Tiffin charge of INR 35. He even put up a paan shop for his brother at K.R.Puram, Bangalore, and then all was well for his brother. With lot of pain he said after they settled his brother didn't help in his time of need. He reminisces of one particular day when his brother didn't help him when the food he was taking fell off his hand and scattered all over the floor.

His brother advised him to stand with a cycle with Magai Pan in MG Road. So he sells pan in front of Barton Center Building for three days a week: Friday, Saturday & Sunday. He says, "My struggle is to make my children happy and to make them big in life". I face problems an-swering policemen & corporation people but I do my business by answering them. Once at midnight, 6 boys who were drunk beat me up badly and unfortunately I had a fracture in the right hand and immediately rushed to Manipal hospital. I had INR 6000 but doctor said treatment will cost 48 thousand so I had to walk away. Later, I kept my wife's ornaments for loan and got treated in another hospital close to home." A customer came by just then to buy paan, and asked him his native, and this gesture pleased him. Treating a fellow human like one never goes unnoticed, I realise. He appreciated Marwari (One of the many Indian communities) families, saying the discipline they follow is followed by none else and we can get the fragrance of Hindu culture from them.

His Message to people:
"A man should not steal, and should not beg from anyone. If people work honestly, feed their stomach and take care of their family, they'll be happy in life."
Message to IU Team:
"You youngsters are the future of India, God bless you all. Grow big in life. My blessing to you will always be 'God bless You'."

And he tells me I'm like his son and offers me paan. I take it gratefully, and leave. Minutes later the rains lash out, and it's annoying when you have to stand at the closest shelter available till the rains stop. But I guess it isn't as hard as standing the whole time while doing work- like selling Paan as some people do with a smile.
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