Durga Khasta Corner

Ajay Kumar Sahu relates the travails of his father, who fled Sitapur to escape the plague. By 1972, he had managed to support his family, selling khasta, poori and mungaudi off a hand cart. “Father died in 1985, when I was just about 18 and in High School. I dropped out of school midway and took over the business, becoming the only earning member of the family. I have learnt everything from Father. We did not use onions or garlic earlier, but now we do use onions for chhole. I believe that a customer is like God. If I state it another way, the business is a temple and I am the priest. If God doesn’t deign to visit the temple, what would I worship! The other important thing is good manners. Even if we have excellent stuff to sell, nobody would come to us if we behave rudely. Earlier people enjoyed eating their khasta off a leaf for 10 p apiece. Now the same khasta costs ₹ 17.