Mission Delhi – Khemchand Pakoriwalle, Connaught Place
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He has a name that makes him seem one of those men justly famous for selling fabulous pakoras.
But he stopped selling them some 40 years ago when he was still a boy.
“I used to make pakoras of all types, I had many customers,” recalls the man who calls himself Khemchand Pakoriwalle.
But then came the national emergency—1975-77—and he was obliged to shut down his E block stall in Central Delhi’s Connaught Place for many number of reasons too complicated to explain here.
“Gobhi and palak pakoras sold the most,” says Khemchand, 55, who now works as an assistant at a kiosk in the same block selling uneatables like socks and caps.
His employer, Ashok Kumar, now steps into the conversation, saying “it’s the game of fate. Once upon a time my colleague had his own business, and now he works for me.”
Khemchand’s entire life changed after shutting down the stall founded by his father, late Narain Singh. Except that virtually all his friends and acquaintances still know him as the man who sold those luscious pakoras. He continues to be called the pakoriwalle.
Has he ever thought about restarting the fabled stall?
He shrugs, muttering sarcastically, “That time is gone. I’ll now open the stall only after my death.”
The gentleman now poses for the camera alongside a fresh yellow rose that he decked up the socks stall with, just minutes ago.
[This is the 254th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Pakoriwalle, without the pakori