Meet Kumar the coconut walah

Delhi’s street scene mimics the weather and market vendors and street  food sellers change what they sell to match what customers want.  With winter fast appraoching Kumar’s days as a coconut seller are coming to a close, but what will he being selling in a few days time?

Kumar here knows a thing or two about coconuts.

Chatting to him while he shelled and served me up a fresh coconut on the streets of Mehrauli I had the chance to hear how the lives of Dilliwalahs change when the weather starts to cool.

Watching Kumar at work is a marvellous sight. He manages to shell and open a coconut in little over a minute.  No mess, no split milk and slices of fleshy white goodness are served up with ease.

Kumar puts my coconut shelling skills to shame.My last attempt, hammer in hand, ended up with a sore finger, water over the floor and coconut pieces mixed with shell and hair.  It was pretty much a pointless exercise.  Since then, I’ve seen them as a challenge more complex than a Rubick’s cube.

So, I had the perfect chance for me to learn from a master.  Kumar soon showed me that I had been doing everything wrong.

A tap here, a hit there and the shell falls away in no time.  Kumar’s coconut master class cost me a mere 30 rupees and, for that, I also got to drink fresh nariyal pani (coconut water) and a eat healthy snack.

For the past seven months this coconut walah has been making a living from his mobile stall in and around the streets of Mehrauli.  But now that the weather is starting to cool he says he’ll have to change what he does if he wants to make any money.

So what new product line will he be wheeling around  to try and tempt in Mehrauli’s cost conscious shoppers?

“Clothes,” comes the answer.  Sensing there was another question coming, Kumar added  “Coats.  It gets cold in Delhi.”

He’s right. Dilliwalahs will be wrapping up warm to try and keep out the elements over the next few months.  During the day the temperature might touch the low twenties, but at night the mercury can fall to as low as five degrees centigrade.

It’s a tough time.  Night shelters for the homeless will be packed.  Blankets will be shared and fires lit as pavement dwellers try to keep warm.

A tough few winter months are on there way.

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