In an India where even a cup of tea is sold at Rs 5 to Rs 10 nowadays, a single, fresh homemade idli piece is available for just Rs 1 in Ulihatu!
This historic village is renown as the birthplace of the legendary tribal leader and freedom fighter from Jharkhand – Birsa Munda. It comes under the Arki block, 28 kilometres away from Khunti district headquarters.
60-year-old Sushanti Purty has been selling such idlis, for that rate, over the past seven years in Ulihatu chowk. Apart from the idlis, she also sells local snacks items like Malpua (Rs 5 per piece), Gulgula (Rs 1 per piece), Shakarpala (Rs 1 per piece) and Fryums (Rs 5 per packet).
“The food selling business contributes to the family income, along with the constant support of my husband, children and grandchildren.
My husband puts a charpai (folding bed) in the chowk – where others also sell their home-made products. We then display our items on various plastic tubs on the charpai from 1 to 7 pm. I am the only one here to sell idlis,” she said.
She further added, “I make around Rs 50 every day, mostly by selling idlis. On Mondays and Saturdays, during the weekly bazaars, my payment exceeds rises to Rs 60 per day. In my ‘retired phase’, I find this job a perfect one to meet our basic needs. ”
Purty’s list of customers includes school goers, kindergarten kids, homemakers, working ladies and men.
“I am a regular visitor to this stall after school. My parents are from below the poverty line and give me pocket money of Rs 5 every day.
With this limited means, I can have five tasty idlis here,” said Baralin Topno, a sixth standard girl of the government school in Barinijkel village.
Animesh Singh, pursuing his undergraduate in Mass Communication from Gossner College, Ranchi came across the lady during a long drive for macro photography.
“The taste of idli is similar to that prepared by my mother. I ate three pieces at one go,” he said.
Purty’s family is engaged in seasonal farming as well but never fails to put up their stall around the year.
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Interestingly, Purty does not have competitors, as she is an inspiration to others. Saloni, a young woman selling samosas in the same area, expressed that the senior resident had set an example by running a rural family business successfully despite the odds.
So next time you pass that area, be sure to catch a bite the idlis yourself!
About The Author: Sumedha Chaudhury is a guest faculty member of the Mass Communication Departments of the Ranchi-based Gossner College, St. Xavier’s College and Jharkhand Rai University.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)
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