Surviving on Roasted Corns for Quarter a Century

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Islam Khan roasting fresh corns in salt to serve it to his customers

Pak Chronicle Report

Rawalpindi

Islam Khan has been roasting fresh corns in salt and selling it after sieving at his pushcart for 25 years in Rawalpindi and he is perfectly satisfied with his job despite facing some issues in the daily life. After spending over 25 years while selling corns in the streets of the city, perhaps he qualifies for some record but he does not intend to apply for it.

When he is not selling or roasting corns then he gets kernels from the cobs to get them ready for roasting on demand of the customers. No one is ready to buy the corns which were roasted a short while ago. All customers want grilling of corns in front of their eyes, a process which takes three to four minutes. Wood fire keeps salt hot in the iron bowl and freshly grilled corns would be handed over to the customers in homemade small paper package.

Around 25 years ago Islam Khan came to Rawalpindi from a remote village of Charsdda to earn livelihood for his family. In the village his family like other villagers used to earn living from small-scale farming. However, the land owned by his family was not sufficient enough to fulfill demand of entire family. So he had to decide where to go to earn some decent income. Rawalpindi was the first option for him to try his luck because a few of his relatives had already settled over here.

As he was illiterate and unskilled person so getting some decent job was out of question. Someone advised him to get pushcart on rent and start selling grilled corns anywhere in the city. Since then he has been selling grilled corns and supporting his large family comprising of many persons including parents, his siblings and children. After hard labour of these 25 years now he owns his own pushcart and now place it on the any street where corns may be sold without facing any issue.

Khan may be found anywhere around the Murree Road with his pushcart but generally he prefers to set his pushcart in front of shrine of Shah Di Taliyan, Committee Chowk during  late hours of the day. Shah di Taliyan is a known graveyard in the area where a sufi saint is buried. Hundreds of people visit his shrine every day to find solace.

Most People visit the shrine in late hours of the day and its perfect time to sell this edible to them. “Many persons after visiting shrine would love to have some freshly grilled corns. Especially children like to have this street snack,” he states.

While shedding light on issues being faced by him he says generally municipal authorities ignore him while staying or pushing his pushcart on the streets but sometime they also take action against him. “If municipal authorities start crackdown against roadside vendors and unfortunately I also get attention of them then my pushcart is confiscated. Nowadays, getting a new pushcart is an expensive deal as 15,000 to 17,000 are required to purchase a new one. So in case of confiscation of pushcart, negotiations and bargain remain the only chance for me to get back it from them,” he says while responding to a query of this scribe.

Due to 10 to 14 hours labour in a day he manages to earn approximately 800 to 900 rupees (approximately US$6). “I would still be able to earn 400 rupees in a day if it is a lean day of business. I am doing well and would continue to do this business as have not alternate job to do,” Khan maintains.

Mostly people will buy roasted corns from him against payment of rupees 10 or 20. Even against this minimal amount Khan will hand them over packet of corns which would be enough for them to fulfill the demand of taste and to some extent the appetite.

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