Mukesh Jaiswal
Panipuri Seller, Thalaiwa

Thalaiwa – The pani puri of Sinamangal

Me and a friend of mine were strolling around Baneshwor. We came across a panipuri stall and my friend being the way she is, she had to eat paripuri anyhow. In little no time, we had our mouth stuffed with panipuri and plate on our palm. Having that mouth stuffed with panipuri she told in the holding breath, “My area’s panipuri is far better than this”. I replied “Nah, this is fine too”. I could sense her anger and a want to prove me which pani-puri was better. She urged we go right then to the stall she had mentioned but it was already dark so I shifted it for next day.

After constantly nagging for couple of days, I finally went to the panipuri stall she had mentioned. On the way, I was curious “Are not panipuri’s all the same, what’s so special about this one?”. Soon after we entered an alley in Pingalistan, Sinamangal. There it was, “THALAIWA”. I saw crowd being served by the swift hands of Mukesh dai. We ordered two plates of pani-puri, but we had to wait for 5 minutes before we got to eat. One pani-puri cracked open in my mouth then I realized how crunchy and delicious it was.
I was surprised by the speed in which he made pani-puri. We hadn’t finished eating one and there they were two more pani-puri on the plate. One plate was not enough, I was tempted to eat more however my purse did not agree, “how many years of practice would it require to serve so fast, to get the ingredients right and to build the customer base.” all these questions were in my mind. My mind seeks for the answer. After waiting for couple of minutes till his customers were gone, we sat down together and this is where the story of “THALAIWA” started.

Mr. Mukesh Jaiswal has been selling panipuri in the area of Sinamangal for well over 4 years now. However, the story of Thalaiwa is way older than his story. Thalaiwa was started by Shah’s father 14 years ago and was passed on to Mukesh as a family business.
His stall is filled by costumer ranging from school kids to college professors. It is the most crowded stall over the Sinamangal area. His sells are panipuri, chatpate, chat and not to miss his star seller Aloo Nimki, a fast-served snack that is rare to get in most stalls inside Kathmandu. He started with Rs. 50, 000 in which he bought his portable stall and customized it himself 7 years ago when he first started his pani-puri business. As for now, he earns an average of Rs. 5000 in a day. Meanwhile his daily investment come around 50% of earning to buy the raw materials needed for food. At the end of the day his savings cross over Rs. 1000 on daily basis. He is thinking of further expanding his pani-puri business and opening a shop in the same locality. We can see that in every locality there is a famous street food stall. So, his thought of opening a shop in the same locality can help him retain his customers. One of the reasons why his stall is famous and crowded
among the other panipuri stall is the quality he maintains in his food. He frequently tries to engage customers by starting a conversation in order to establish customer-based relationship which helps to retain the customers.

However, the perks of running a street stall and earning 1000 a day does not come in that easy. There are times when raining causes less customers to come by his stall. Also, there has been cases when metropolitan confiscated the stall when he was doing his business in main road. At the time of strikes, he has to face the loss too. But even though he has had these troubles while doing this business, he still is able to gain profit and earn enough to run his family. Hearing his story, I thought that pani-puri is just not street food but it has
become much bigger than that. It has helped a family to run, a medium to have small chitchat with friends and when people want to eat something sour and spicy, then they think of pani-puri. But I was really surprised that through pani-puri, a person can earn so much, in a country like Nepal, where unemployment has caused the country’s GDP to fall down. I was naïve at first to think that selling pani-puri will only help to earn little money. But if someone has right intention and determination then they can succeed in life.

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