Shri Krishna Temple road represents a slowly vanishing side of Indiranagar. Twenty years ago, one would take an excursion to this side of on a weekend for some grocery shopping, or maybe for lunch at Wanley's or Sue's, or even a drink at the erstwhile Viceroy's (currently Viceroy Sarathy). Besides this, there were a few 'Fancy stores', the temple that gave the road it's name, a dignified litter of flower shops, an Iyengar bakery and a few private residences (with garages, a defining feature of private residences in Indiranagar circa 1980), but it still stood out like a bustling colossus amidst the thick foliage that was Indiranagar. A lot of these topographical constants still remain, some hang on more tenuously than others. One of the more robust constants, a vegetable vendor named Ashraf R.P who meticulously stacks his produce in the most beguiling manner every morning, managed to catch the attention of our co-founder Kala, an appellant liable to wander through the narrower lanes and cobbled streets. Here are a few snatches from their conversation:
Kala: "In English, there's a term for this. It's called 'OCD', which stands for Obsessive..."
Ashraf: "No no no, I don't have any problem and all madam!"
Kala: "What if I move this vegetable over here? Would it bother you?"
Ashraf: "I'll just put it back in it's place after you're gone." he says , smiling.
Kala: "So how long have you been doing this? What is your regular day like?"
Ashraf: "My father began this 45 years ago and we've been at the same spot ever since. We are natives of Thrissur who moved here back then to start this business. Every morning, I wake up at 5 to go to the market near Majestic to pick up the vegetables for my shop. By 7 I'm back here stacking them up. It takes about two hours to do it, so I just chat with my brother who helps me run the shop . Sometimes, even if my brother is not around, a passerby will come help me stack them up. I'm here the whole day and go home late in the evening. Business is good, I would say we sell more than the supermarket down the street."
Kala: "But why do you find the need to do this? Why don't other vendors do this? Do you stack in a particular order?"
Ashraf: "Oh, they do madam. If you go on Mysore road and see you'll find people who stack it up like this. Most of the people here don't do it because they just don't have the scale of operations that I do, so all they can do is just place their vegetables around them. I do this because I want customers to be attracted by the presentation. Even at home I organize things like this. I don't stack them in any specific order daily, depends on my mood that day, but I always stack them every day."
Kala: "What's your favorite vegetable?"
Ashraf: "Me? Actually madam, I eat only non- veg."