Mandoo Bhai ki Shikanji

Pata Nala, Chowk

Mandoo Bhai relates: “Generations of our family have dealt in shikanji. My father and my elder brother ran this business, and now it is my turn. We had a tiny stall right opposite where my father and my brother used to operate from. After both of them passed way, I took up this shop. In my father’s time, about 50 years ago, a glass of shikanji sold for five paise. The rate today is ₹25-40.Earlier, we used to set up a stall at weddings and majlis congregations, but not anymore. When father was alove, I used to study and also spend time at the shop. Nobody in our family is literate. I had five daughters, but two of them passed away. There will be no one to run this shop after me, because women in my family are not allowed to take up trade. My grandfather was from Gumdabad. He came to Lucknow in search of livelihood. His nickname was Bulaki. He set up a soft drinks stall here that sold different kinds of shikanji and sherbet – starfruit, mint, jamun, zeera. Soda shikanji is the most popular, and in the summer, raw mango pana. We used to have a sugarcane juice machine earlier. We are famous now, thanks to Allah’s munificience. I have spent my whole life selling shikanji, and this is my whole world. I have nothing left to learn about shikanji, it is now the time to demonstrate what I have learnt.