BENGALURU: Halt at any signal in the heart of the city and you will find a pole with cotton candy packets bobbing towards you through the crowd.
A group of 12 men, hailing from Uttar Pradhesh, manufacture these little treats at a lodge near KR Market and sell up to 150 packets each every day.
City Express met Avlesh Kumar (46), evidently the oldest of the lot, on Brigade Road and spoke to him about the business and how he’s adapting to Bengaluru.
What were you doing before this?
I was driving a taxi. After my father died, my four brothers and I had a falling-out and the car was taken away from me. Then I got together with some of my friends and started this business.
What brings you to Bengaluru?
We took the business to Punjab and Gujarat over the years. A packet of cotton candy was sold at `5 there. One of my friends told me that we could make `20 per packet in Bengaluru. So we came here.
What about your family?
My wife, son and two daughters live back in Uttar Pradhesh. My daughters are married and one of them has two children. My son works in a lock factory.
How are you liking Bengaluru?
It’s all right. I don’t have a choice but to like it.
Tell us about your business.
All 12 of us live in one room. We have three machines that make the candy. We divide our responsibilities – one of us feeds the machine, one makes the candy, one puts it in the bag, one ties it up.
How much money do you make?
On good days, we make `7,000. We need to pay `10,000 a month for accommodation. A lot of money goes into buying sugar and colour for the candy, which we bring from Uttar Pradhesh. We split the remaining money among us and send as much as we can to our families back home.
What about food?
We make roti and sabzi in the room. We eat once in the morning and when we go back at night. In the middle, we have chai and biscuits when we get hungry.
Who are your customers?
All kinds of people. Mostly aap jaise madam log.
We also sell a batch to that hotel at the end of the road (Social on Church Street that serves a cocktail that is made of vodka and candyfloss).