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‘Axe effect has taken its toll’

entertainment Updated: May 23, 2008 01:10 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

If you are determined to give your best shot in whatever you dabble in, you will succeed,” says Khurshed Ahmed as he cracks some eggs over a huge

tava

. From being a farmer in Sharanpur, a village in Uttar Pradesh, to becoming a grocery store delivery boy, to coming to own four

bhurji-pav

stalls around Cooper Hospital in Vile Parle (West), the 48-year-old has indeed risen in life.

In a tête-à-tête with Beryl Menezes, the Juhu galli resident narrates the eternal tale of jobless souls coming to grips with the metro life, even as he traces the metamorphosis of the area.

“Though I started my journey as a nobody and by my own wits, 25 years on, I believe I have come a long way. I have loyal customers who have been coming here from childhood and eating bhurji-pav, pav bhaji and vegetarian pulav made by me .

When I started, the only competition was from a dal-chawal vendor in the hospital lane, whose stall I later purchased.

The lane I now operate from what was once a kachcha road with no lights and a den for antisocial activities. I pressurised the municipal corporation to build a proper road and bring about other infrastructure changes. As policemen from Santacruz and Parle police chowkies, as well as doctors from the Cooper Hospital were my customers, this was not a very difficult task (smiles).

From the beginning, I have always worked the night shift—9 pm to 4 am, seven days a week. By virtue of this, I have often fed people in the wee hours when no other eatery was open.

The scaffolding around the area is a telltale sign of change. Bungalows have given way to multi-storey buildings. With few trees around, the axe effect has taken its toll. My first job in Mumbai was in a grocery store in Teli Galli, Andheri (E), as an errand boy. Shuttling between Byculla, Jogeshwari and Andheri from 5 am till 2 am daily, the grind got to me.In those days, I was living in Vile Parle with a bhurji-pav stall owner. One day due to an accident he asked me to fill in for him. Since then, there has been no looking back. Today, my food items are priced at Rs 35-40, from the Rs 3-4 of yore. But more than inflation, it is the competition from other vendors in the vicinity that poses a problem.

Earlier, our profit margins were low, but we had more peace of mind. Like today, even then I had 150-odd customers but the clientele has changed from families to mainly BPO employees. When you plant a seed and nurture it, it grows to become a tree.

This is also how my business has grown, though, in reality the trees in this area have vanished long ago.”