Living in the shadows

Living in the shadows

Unsung Service

Living in the shadows

Serving Hot: Ramesh, a tea-seller.

It is one thirty in the night. Nazeem is standing next to his bicycle busy preparing hot tea and arranging cigars. It is his business time as many BPO employees and others would pour in soon.

Nazeem is one among the hundreds who sells coffee, tea, biscuits, buns, dosa, rice bath, omelette and cigarettes in the night on the roads of the City. On an average, these night chaiwalas earn Rs 1500 to 2000 depending on the area that they are working in. Nazeem pushes his over-loaded bicycle to the Anil Kumble Circle at around 10 pm and sells these eatables till the first rays of the sun appears. “Many people come here for a cup of tea while going back home,” he says.

 For the past one and half years, he has been standing with his cycle here. “Every night, I earn about Rs 2000 and during the day, I work part time in a company,” he says. He has taken up these jobs to help his wife recover from breast cancer. Suresh is another night-hawker who does his business near Rajajinagar. He has coffee and rice items along with the other things that Nazeem has. “Most of the times, students and people travelling in the night journey vehicles come to have a cup of coffee here,” he says.

“During summers, business is more because students wish to stay up late for studies and what better way to avoid sleep than a cup of coffee/tea or a cigarette," Nazeem adds. “After a hectic night of work, a cup of coffee relaxes my body,” says Babulu R N, an employee of the Hard Rock Cafe, who is a regular customer of Nazeem.

“A hot cup of tea eases my journey back home,” he adds. “My stomach roars at this time (2.15 am) so a cup of tea and a plate of rice or dosa help me a lot. There is no one back at home to cook for me,” says Raghu, who is an auto driver. For many, these stalls have become an oasis of coffee and eatables, whereas for others, these are the alternatives for cafes and other eat-outs, which are not open in the nights.

“The cafes and other eateries are closed at this point of time, and while heading back home, a cup of tea eases the ride,” says Josh, a disc jockey based in the City. There are many problems that hawkers face in the nights. If cops are a minor problem, then drunk youngsters are a major one. Many a time, these youngsters abuse and even physically manhandle them.

“It’s common for us. Every night, one such incident happens,” says Ravi, who has his bicycle store on MG Road near a petrol bunk. Kempe Gowda bus stand is another hotspot, where these people find business. There are about eight to nine such stalls in and around the bus stand. But none of them were willing to talk.