Unsung Hero : Dinesh, the golgappawala inspires students of IT-BHU

I was once again in the city of Varanasi to address the youth of IT BHU, and as is my wont, I was going around the ‘Galis’ imbuing the smell and absorbing the visual milieu while looking for the silks the city is known for. As it was already late evening, I came across closed shops. Thankfully, one of the rickshawalas advised me to go to the traditional ‘kapda-market’ (cloth) where the lalas (traditional cloth merchants) still keep the shops open till late evenings. I managed to walk through the packed gallis of the old city’s wholesale markets one after the other – vessels, cosmetic and items of ladies interest, plastic and packaging material… and finally arrived at the kapda market (cloth) only to find just a few shops still open. Though I did not find what I was looking for, but there were items that grabbed my attention and I ended up buying a few pieces.

I finished my shopping and was back into the gallis this time finding my way out of the market place, towards the hotel where I was put up. Like any Indian city, especially in the old city, you will come across small traditional eateries. While rushing to the cloth market, though I was tempted to stop by many of these eateries, each serving some delicacy or other, I told myself that first I will buy the silk cloth pieces, then will stop at an eatery. Now that I was done with shopping, my eyes fell on thellawalas (push cart) selling tikki and golgappas, devised interestingly unique to the city.

I parked myself by these thellas and asked them to serve their delicacies, first was the tikki (fried potato dumpling) with a few chatnies (spicy liquids). A different look and taste from the usual Delhi one I realized. The tikki is not that fried and when they serve. It is beaten and becomes just a gooey dal like with tangy and spicy chatnies. It’s different.

Then I asked the neighboring thellawala to serve the golgappas. To my surprise, the treatment of the golgappas too was different. He served with curd, tangy Chatney, spicy chili slices and sliced onions. Wah, what a taste!

Unsung hero, Dinesh, the golgappawala at Naisadak, Varanasi

After having a fill, I was a little curious, as usual, to really understand their business model and profitability. I was surprised when the golgappawala shared that he comes to this favorite corner of Naisadak in Varanasi at 5pm and finishes his wares by 10pm. During the course of these five hours, 7000 golgappas made by the family in the morning gets sold. With every plate served has 6 golgappas, for which he charges Rs. 10/-, the thellawala makes a cool 7k if not 10k every day! That amounts to almost 2 Lakhs a month!

I was addressing the young graduates at IT BHU, one of the most premier institutions of India, this morning, I shared this story along with the stories of Gyanendra pandey of Husk-power systems and Nirmal’s G-Auto. The audience were stunned to silence. I could see the awe on some faces while I could see shame on some. One commented that after four years and five years of studies in the prestigious institution, they end up with offers of 3-4 Lakhs that they take pride in. And these stories shook them, woke them from slumber.

Following this, there was a short exercise of written ability test, wherein I had asked them to write about – what I can be of value to your institution / company? As all of them are either seeking a placement or thinking of belling the CAT and getting into ions of the IIMs. They were expecting a topic of currency and were taken aback at this topic. The next 20min ended up being an exercise in introspection, for the most.

Finally, as the session was meandering to its end, I threw a question – “what is the one thing you are carrying home from this session?”..

The responses were interesting

1. We have to really think about our future
2. Pursue what you are passionate about

Later I was delighted to interview a couple of candidates who are very focused and have charted their career priorities too.

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