Yesterday (7 Feb 2011), i was at Uppina Angadi with my friend Kiran rao. We were there on work. After a tiring site survey in the morning and some technical class in the afternoon, we set out to explore the town in the evening. Uppina Angadi is a small town in Malnad about 60 Kms from Mangalore. It was a pretty big town many many years back where Salt from Mangalore used to be unloaded here before getting dispatched to various destinations (This information has to be authenticated).
We set out to Sangama (Confluence) of two lovely rivers;Kumara Dhara and Netravati. Its a beautiful place on the National highway 48. A massive RCC bridge on the highway connects the two banks of Kumaradhara. There is also a small Steel truss bridge for smaller vehicles which connects to the city. The Sunset here is pretty serene.
It was humid and we were pretty hungry by the time the sun left for the day in the horizon. Just next to the RCC Bridge, we met Lokesh, the Pani puri man in his push cart. There was a pretty healthy crowd around him. I asked a customer there for the speciality of the place. He immediately said “Masala Puri”. So we asked Lokesh to give us two plates of Masala puri. He served us a two plates of really superb hot masala puri. By the time we finished it, he had made another round of 16 Plates of Masala puri. He served it to the customers who had flocked there. Just one plate was left and i could not resist the temptation of another helping. Kiran and me shared this plate. By this time we had struck a good relationship with Lokesh. He explained to us the route to his house, his room etc. He explained the speciality of his Masala puri. I was quickly reminded of Srinivas of M.A.R. chats near Shivbalayogi Ashram in J.P.Nagar,Benglooru. Venkatesh had also started small in a small push cart near Mini forest specializing in “Kodu Bale Masala” and today he makes a pretty big business thanks to his courtesy, quality and cleanliness.
Unlike the push cart Pani puri walas of Benglooru, lokesh did not have any helpers. He was a one man army. Second best part of Lokesh’s shop after the taste was his cleanliness and next his courtesy. If we keep out the fact that it was on the highway, rest of the things were pretty neat. Since he had no helpers and the river was about 300 metre walk down the steep river bank, he would not wash the used plates there (cart). All the plates would be taken to his room and washed there with running water. So each plate is used only once in a day. This is pretty cool isn’t it?
Finally after 3 plates of tasty Masala puri and two plates of Pani puri, we left his shop but not before a few more words with Lokesh. Lokesh told us a story of a few travellers from Hassan who visited his room when the latter’s vehicle broke down on the highway. He explained to us his difficulty when he was driven away from the town and his helplessness during monsoons. He was a first generation masala puri entrepreneur in his 15th year of entrepreneurial journey.
We left with Kiran rao telling these words “We have to come again to Uppina Angadi again just to have the Masala Puri or on our way to Mangalore next time, we should definitely stop for a Masala puri from Lokesh” ..
I have started enjoying these conversations with people who at the outset feel strangers but many times have fascinating stories to share (here are some examples http://sonublogs.blogspot.com/2010/08/happy-man.html , http://sonublogs.blogspot.com/2009/06/bahrath-aur-sharukh-khan.html.)
These interactions have many things to teach. It is not so difficult to strike a healthy chord with anyone. In fact its such a nice feeling to connect to people.