KOCHI: After becoming an integral part of the city’s construction arena, migrants from North Indian states and Tamil Nadu are now tantalising the tastebuds of Kochiities with their mix of flavours. Street food stalls and petty shops run by the migrants have become a common sight, especially in the areas around the railway stations. Most of these people come from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, hoping to make a better life here. Interestingly, these vendors do not own shops. They work under the contractors for a fixed monthly salary.
With a month-long experience in the preparation of North Indian cuisine, Vijayakumar, a native of Theni, assists Parameshwaran, from Tamil Nadu, at his ‘bhajji’ stall. Parameshwaran has been living in Kochi for the last nine years and runs a small stall where he prepares and sells a variety of fast food items like egg bhajji, pao bhaji, dal vada, pani puri and other chat items. “We live an unpredictable life. Some days are pleasant while other days get rough on us,” Vijayakumar said.
Just a look over the other side of the road and one can easily spot a thriving ‘badam milk’ stall run by two people from Rajasthan. Here, each glass of the milk costs `10. “It is easy to make and save money here. I charge `10 for a glass of badam milk while in my hometown it fetches only `2,” said Adith, from Pulvada in Rajasthan, who runs the milk stall here. He earns around `2000 a day. However, the entire sum goes into the pockets of the contractor Gopal who provides him with the ingredients.
Another common sight at Ernakulam North are is a group of women selling flowers. Meenakshi, Chundamani, Thanga and Chinnakka came from Karadimada, Tamil Nadu, to earn their living on a weekly basis. They sell bhandi, rose, fire craker flower (kanakambaram) and jasmine. They live on the commission being provided by the flower distributors who provide them, with the day’s stock every day. These women can be seen sitting on the footpaths throughout the day. At night, they find shelters on the verandahs of the nearby shops.