City Food – Auto Drivers’ Dal-Chawal Stall, Kasturba Gandhi Road
Meal on the go.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
All bankers look the same. They probably regain their individualistic personas during their lunch breaks. Same is the case with people of other professions too, including the capital’s auto rickshaw drivers.
This became clear to The Delhi Walla at Ram Hazoor’s pavement food stall on central Delhi’s Kasturba Gandhi Road. His Dal-Chawal shack is wildly popular among the auto drivers. Many of them, who chiefly drive in this part of the city, plan their itinerary in such a way that they pass by Mr Hazoor’s stall as hunger pangs start to distract them on the city’s dangerous roads. After dropping off the passenger, a typical driver would head to Mr Hazoor, quickly gobble down a plate of mixed dal, plain boiled rice and eggplant fritters, and then go back to his auto to drive into the rest of the day.
Although Mr Hazoor serves his customers from 10 am to 5 pm, his place is particularly crowded during the afternoon. The drivers, in their grey uniform, crowd around him waiting to be served. Some eat while standing; others sit down on the pavement. Some constantly chat–talking politics, cracking jokes; others eat silently.
Mr Hazoor sits on a plastic sheet spread out on the ground, encircled by plastic buckets filled with food. One plate of meal costs a mere 35 rupees.
Mr Hazoor’s stall used to be near Andhra Bhawan but he moved here in 2013. He arrived in Delhi years ago from his village near Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh. His daily customers call him affectionately as Raghu. To Delhiwallas other than auto drivers, Mr Hazoor’s establishment is, at the most, a roadside blur. But it is here that one of the most visible sections of Delhi’s people succeeds in becoming less of a caricature.
The honest meal
2. (Ram Hazoor)