Chow-mien is one of the most amazing street foods in India.
Its fragrance, as well as taste, fills up our mouth with water. Most often we make one of the street stalls as our “adda” where we have a lot of different stories to share with our friends. But have we ever tried to sneak into the eyes of the vendor which have a lot of struggles, happiness and memories to share?
Let’s have a look on the story of a roadside chow-mien vendor who is an inspiration for today’s so-called young generation.
Prakash, aged around 21 is a young Bengali boy, for whom serving the customers in his stall is his all time work. He has been doing this since he was nine. As a kid, he used to help his father in the stall, serving the customers and washing the plates after he returned from School. Yes, I said School. Despite their grim financial circumstance, his father never compromised with their studies. He and his little sister used to study in a reputed English Medium School. Unfortunately, his father died when he was at the age of 13 and all his books and copies remained in his bag forever. “My father wanted me to become an engineer and my sister to become a doctor. I realized that I won’t be able to do so. But I had always wanted my sister to continue with her studies. So I left my school and started working in the stall”. His own dreams died, but for his family, he became a “chow-mien walla”.
Famous as “Bhola Bhaiya”, Prakash surprisingly started making tasty chow-mien since the very first day using the ingredients of love, happiness and care that he had inherited from his father. To supplement his income, his mother started selling “allu chops” just beside his stall.
Many are drawn to his stalls by the aroma of the noodles – which were handmade and had an extra bounce. He serves the noodles to his customers along with tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, mustard, slices of raw onion and cucumber, and above all, an everlasting smile. A perfect example of winning service orientation!
He sets his stall every day and never gets tired of his work. He gets a lot of free time in the morning which he utilizes to work as an ice-cream vendor. He then returns home at 3 pm to help his mother prepare food items for their stall. His day usually starts at 6 in the morning and he heads back home around 1 am when he can no longer find people on the roads.
The weather has always tried to test him but he never failed. He never minds the sun draining all his energy, nor the rain drenching him, even the cold winds could not stop him moving ahead to do his work.
He stands near the hot stove and serves chow-mien. The scorching heat and smoke from the stove which we cannot bear for even a minute are his companion.
Despite so many difficulties in his life he never forgets to put a smile on his face. When I asked the reason behind his everlasting smile he proudly said “Haste Raho. Pata Nahi Kisi Din Zindagi tumhe pareshan Karte Karte thak jaye”(Keep Smiling. You never know the day life will get tired of upsetting you).
My salute to such a great brother who has put his dreams on hold for his sister. He believes that one day his sister would become a doctor and serve the poor and needy people like them. Hope that God fulfills his wish.