Meet a workaholic paanwala

I don’t give anything to children under 18 years of age. Young boys come to me asking for cigarettes, but I don’t give. Sometimes, they say they are buying it for their fathers. But I still don’t give.

Govind Narayan Swamy, 27 years, Paan stall owner, Bangalore

Interviewed by Joseph Colin

You are from Uttar Pradesh. How do you speak Tamil?
Because I lived in Coimbatore for five years.

What were you doing in Coimbatore?
I was working in a beedi shop that was owned by someone else. I ran away from my village and went to Coimbatore.

How old were you when you ran away from home?
19 years

Tell me something about your family.
There are eight people in my family. Two brothers, their wives, their children and my parents.

What work do you do here in Bangalore?
I have a beeda shop. I make paan.

Do you like your work?
It’s okay…no no actually I like it.

Why did you leave Coimbatore and come to Bangalore?
The owner of the paan shop in Coimbatore wasn’t good.

Why?
I worked there for five years. The owner gave just INR 100/month, but he provided me with accommodation and food. He promised me I could take over the shop eventually. I waited for five years. Once I realized this wasn’t happening, I told the owner I wanted to leave and I asked him for some money. I came to Bangalore and worked for somebody for two years. Later, I opened my own shop.

For how many years have you had this shop?
Three years.

Are you married?
Yes. My wife is in Bangalore with me.

Where is she from?
She is from my village. Her house was about half a kilometer from my house.

What do you like about your work and what do you not like about it?
I like what I am doing, and I earn well. I am content with the money I make.

Do you have friends in Bangalore?
I don’t have friends. Anybody who comes to my shop is my friend. If they talk to me, I talk to them.

Do you have other relatives in Bangalore?
Yes, but I don’t visit them. I don’t have the time. I work all 7 days a week. The only time I get an off is when there is a bandh.

What time do you open the shop?
At 7.20 am

Do you get customers at that time?
Yes, for cigarettes. A lot of people buy cigarettes at that time.

What time do you close the shop?
11.30 pm

So you work for 16 hours a day?
Yes, close to 15-16 hours.

And you stand and work throughout?
Yes

Doesn’t it hurt?
It does.

What about your food?
I don’t eat anything in the morning. Lunch is at noon, and dinner is at midnight.

You don’t have anything in between?
No…no…actually I eat paan in between.

That’s not food…(Colin laughs). Tell me how old are your customers?
I don’t give anything to children under 18 years of age. Young boys come to me asking for cigarettes, but I don’t give. Sometimes, they say they are buying it for their fathers. But I still don’t give.

What does love mean to you?
I don’t have any love affairs. I am struggling in my life. I lost my father. I don’t have love in my life. I am just doing my work.

You don’t have a love life at all?
I am married now. That’s all.

 

Categories: Career

Meet the interviewer

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.