VV Puram Food Street not the same anymore

I was at VV Puram a couple of days back & decided to visit the famous area near VB Bakery to eat something. This area is called by different names. Some call it Food Street & others like my friend who resides in that area calls it Circle. It is basically one small stretch of road where hawkers & small hotels sell varieties of food ranging from capsicum bajjis to ‘obbattu’ to the regular idlis & dosas. This specific area has been written about previously as well in Metblogs. (you could check those posts by searching for ‘street food’)

It was a while since I went that side & as soon as I got there I noticed that the place was not as crowded as it used to be sometime back. All the push cart vendors selling varieties of snacks were missing. After walking around the place a bit more I realized that the only eating options available were from folks who had shops. Of course these guys had come onto the footpath & set up their stoves there & were selling their stuff.

Not giving it much thought we got down to business. We ordered ourselves capsicum bajjis that was handed over after sprinkling some chilli powder on it & chopped onions & carrots. If there is one reason I head to this place it is for this. Ordinary, simple & tasty. Having devoured bajji we moved to the ‘obbattu’ shop. As the chap there poured a spoonful of ghee on a hot piece I remember commenting to my friend, “mom should see me eating this, she would surely corner me with the question – Why don’t you enjoy it when it is made at home?” Well what can one say to that? There is a certain bliss eating it out on a breezy day, with the company of a friend & chatting up on how life’s been to each other. Next stop was at a Dosa shop. Sharing the plain dosa I noticed that things around there had developed to such an extent that this dosa shop guy had a detachable steel wash basin slightly away from the huge rectangular stove on which he was making dosas. He had pretty much settled down there.

The only few push carts that were around there were the types selling corn. We ordered ourselves Butter Masala corn. Once again I was pretty impressed with the way this push cart was equipped with an adjustable & movable fan positioned strategically near the hot glowing charcoal on which the corn was being cooked. A few years back this same guy would have fanned the charcoal with a hand fan, moving it from his left hand to the right.

Shortly there after started the drama. Like in the movies, there was a villain here too. The Police. A couple of khaki wearing police walked around & in their typical style hinted to the push cart vendors & positioned themselves a little away from us all. The owner of another push cart volunteered to pay the policemen. The money was handed over discreetly. It was pushed into the hands of the policeman. No word was exchanged. The policeman quietly pocketed the money. Moments later the duo began to walk away.

By the time we were breathing heavy after munching the spicy Butter Masala corn came Scene two of the drama. Villains again, this time they were the Traffic police. The traffic policeman did one simple thing. He raised his voice & asked the push cart vendors to move away from there immediately. Both the push cart vendors obediently began to move away. But only a couple of meters. Looking at this the policeman raised his voice again. The push carts were moved again. Again only a few meters After a while another officer came by & seeing that the carts hadn’t moved away completely from there began to issue a fine charge to the push cart we had bought our Butter masala corn from. Slightly away an elderly couple selling largely home made stuff like ‘chaklis’ & the like on their push cart were cursing the police under their breath & saying, “why do you do this to us?”

Eating out especially out on the street is an experience. May be not for a certain section of the society, but it does have a certain romance about it. And for someone like me who eats street food regularly & loves the experience, it was pretty disturbing to see the police playing spoilsport of sorts. Had this place been traffic heavy or pedestrian heavy, the act of the police to move them away would be understood. But this place is absolutely not like that. There is hardly any traffic & if the Food Street is completely closed down, it is very likely that we will not see a soul out on that road. So why such treatment towards these push cart vendors? It is incomprehensible to me.

And that is when the earlier wonderment of why this place was less crowded began to make sense. So much was available there on the road. Chinese food. Badam milk & remember that Boti masala I wrote about in an earlier post?

It’ll be really nice if the police stop playing spoilsport & let all those people who did street food business there get back & continue. That road is not the same any more.

7 Comments so far

  1. karthik (unregistered) on February 8th, 2008 @ 2:00 am

    VV-PURAM TINDI BEEDI is the best place in the world. Yes it has changed a lot if it is for good or bad i really do not know!!! but i still enjoy the food on this street. The campaign would start from the VV Bakery at one end and end up near the corn shop with a masala thumbs up at the other end !!!! And recently this street hosted the "AVEREKAI MELA" not sure if it is still there.
    Thanks Lokesh for bringing this ‘mouth watering’ post :)

  2. BNB (unregistered) on February 8th, 2008 @ 8:59 pm

    I noticed this more than six months back. The police were asking the shops to close very early. Even two years ago, the shops used to be open at least till 11:30-12:00 pm.

  3. BNB (unregistered) on February 8th, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

    I noticed this more than six months back. The police were asking the shops to close very early. Even two years ago, the shops used to be open at least till 11:30-12:00 pm.

  4. Deepa Mohan (unregistered) on February 9th, 2008 @ 11:17 am

    Nice post. Very often, the administration is very short-sighted and does not realize that street food is something beyond hygiene or law; it forms a part of a vibrant culture. Bangkok, for example, has realized it, as has New York…the street food in both these cities is regulated, but at the same time, proudly touted as part of the culture of the cities.

  5. preran (unregistered) on February 11th, 2008 @ 8:35 am

    Hi Lokesh,

    I was on my way to Hanumanth Nagar, and in my usual getting lost routine, made my way to VV Puram on the way. Was not sure where exactly this street is but I did run into one smelling of great food. However, I did not have the time to stop by and indulge myself. Maybe the next time :) Your post has me feeling ravenous every time I come back to read it.

  6. Lokesh (unregistered) on February 11th, 2008 @ 10:29 am

    Thanks Karthik for your comment. BNB, it is really sad if it has been like this for the last 6 months. Well put Deepa. Hope the authorities look at all such things from a bigger perspective. Yeah Preran it is a nice place, do manage to go there sometime.

  7. captainjohann (unregistered) on February 11th, 2008 @ 8:33 pm

    The madiwala road is being cleaned up due to Armed police Hqrts and threat from terrorists.I will miss this shandy if it is closed.

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