The hardworking chaat vendor of Kanglung

At five in the evening, Kanglung wears a cold deserted look. Devi Charan bustles around like a bee as he arranges containers displaying his products – chaat and pani-puri and bottles of mineral water in his alto car near Sherubtse college gate in Kanglung.

Devi Charan, 48, well known as Bangtar works at the Renewal Nature Resource Research Center (RNRRC) at Khangma and he sells food items near the college gate as a part time job.

He is visibly tired yet excited as his first customers arrive.

“Three plates of pani-puri and a chaat for us,” a group of college girls chirps.

Devi Charan says that after tiring office work, it is difficult for him to stand at the gate for more than four hours but he is happy that he can earn some extra money.

His business is lucrative, the only challenges being fatigue and the cold in winter.

Devi Charan started the business in early 2016. “I started it thinking I could earn extra income for my family,” he said, “Within a year, with the profit I made, I bought a second-hand car.”

He said that the demand for his food items is high as there are no other outlets providing similar service. “Students, cabbies and locals are my main customers,” he added.

“Here is your chaat,” he says as he serves a group of school children standing near his car.

Students enjoy Devi Charan’s trademark spicy chaat but the smoke and dust from passing vehicles trouble them.

However, this has not affected his business at all.

Meanwhile, his profit depends upon the number of customers who visit. “Usually, I make a profit of more than Nu. 1,000 every evening,” he says adding that his evening business can generate more profit than his monthly salary.

“My business is lucrative and when I share about the profits that I make to my customers, some college students are inspired to start similar businesses upon graduating.”

His monthly income from selling chaat and pani-puri ranges from Nu.15,000 to Nu.20,000 and sometimes more.

His customers gather around his car for more than four hours. “I cannot stay without eating a few pani-puris daily and they taste good,” says a shopkeeper.

Devi Charan plans to buy a bigger car to expand his business.

As time passes, the crowd slowly thickens and much to his relief his pani-puri and chaat is exhausted. Usually, he closes business by 8pm but with the people still stopping by his car he plans to continue till 9pm tonight.

As the night folds in and the streets become empty, Devi Charan gathers his empty containers and arranges them back inside his car.

He rests in his car for a while, heaving a deep sigh of satisfaction, before counting his earnings. “One thousand five hundred, good enough for the day,” he smiles. He pockets the hard earned currency and turns his car, heading home to prepare for business next day.

Jigme Wangchen from Kanglung, T/gang