Anurag Chauhan, 23, never imagined he would like to preserve two currency notes - a £20 and a £10. UK Prime Minister David Cameron gave the notes to him when the dignitary stopped by his stall to have a taste of Kolkata’s famous street food.
Though it may be debated whether daal vada of which Cameron had six pieces, constitute Kolkata’s signature snacks, the British PM relished all of them with pudina chutney and said, ‘very nice’ before handing over the money.
On Friday, Chauhan, a third generation snack vendor, reported faster sales after the word spread that Cameron sampled his fare. The vendor swore that he will always keep the notes given by the British PM.
“Sales have nearly risen by 50%. On any given working day, we sell around 200-250 plates of vada. On holidays, we sell around 350-400. But since Friday morning, people are coming and asking about the interaction with Cameron,” Chauhan grinned.
On Thursday evening, Cameron’s convoy pulled up and the sprightly PM stepped out. Chauhan was not entirely surprised as a couple of days ago, personnel of the British deputy high commission had come on a recce and briefed him. “They asked me to keep it a secret,” said Chauhan. “But after he relished the vadas, the sahib did not know how much to pay me. He opened his purse out to me and I pointed at two notes, one a `20 and the other `10. Then he pulled out the notes out and gave me,” said the vendor.
Originally hailing from Jaunpur in UP, Chauhan joined his father in the business two years back after completing his graduation. His father Rajendra Prasad Chauhan opened a vada stall at Victoria Memorial and named it after the monument.
They shifted to Camac Street 27 years ago. But the name seems to have done the real trick.