City Landmark – Jain Paan House, KG Marg
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Any number of kiosks in our fair city attract a steady stream of regular customers who show a loyalty that grand showrooms might well envy. There’s Jain Paan House on KG Marg, for instance, that amounts to a mini-supermarket, selling stuff as varied as digestive choorans and milk chocolate to namkeen on the go, though it stopped its paans years ago out of consideration for the area’s general cleanliness. Nearby officegoers often gather here during their breaks; while almost everybody is on bantering terms with owner Sunil Jain and his father, Bhagchand, who opened the popular kiosk back in 1975.
In an area teeming with commercial high-rises the Paan House amounts to a charming neighbourhood shop just around the corner. The stall occupies very little place in the world and still has developed a community around it that would be very tough for a real supermarket to create. But keeping it alive and thriving does require considerable effort and long hours for Mr Jain, who is better known as Jain Saab.
At 9am most any morning he parks his car alongside the kiosk and unlocks it. And then strains to lift the lid that will become the stall’s roof during the day. He now reorganizes the products into their proper places, and thereafter proceeds to unload the car brimming with everything from biscuit packets to canned juice.
Amid all this, an early customer turns up and asks for two cigarettes. Mr Jain quietly obliges to conclude the day’s first transaction. Then sets about readying Jain Paan House for profitable hours lying ahead.
A small wonder, the makeshift establishment is the only one of its kind in the area to have been standing for so long.
Jain Saab’s shrine