The memorable instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He parks his car beside what looks like a giant steel trunk–it is actually one of the most popular refreshment stalls in the area.
One morning The Delhi Walla is at Kasturba Gandhi Road watching Sunil Jain open his Jain Paan House. The stall is like a mini supermarket that sells stuff as varied as digestive choorans to milk chocolates, apart from paans and cigarettes, of course. Mr Jain’s father, Bhagchand, had opened this place in 1975—he is also seen seated here during the day. Both father and son are called Jain Sahib by the customers.
It is about eight and will take one more hour for the office-going crowd to mill around the stall. Mr Jain silently starts to unlock the kiosk. It takes some effort to pull up the lid, which will become the stall’s roof during the day. He takes a peek inside—it is crammed to the top with all sorts of products. They will have to be removed and stacked in their appointed places.
Mr Jain’s car, too, looks like a stall—it is filled with biscuits packets, chocolate cartons and stacks of juice cans.
A man appears while Mr Jain is still in the middle of opening his stall. He asks for two cigarettes. Mr Jain quietly obliges to conclude the day’s first transaction. It is a beautiful moment.
Before the rush hour