He doesn’t need any publicity – he operates on Delhi’s Fleet Street, after all, and says he’s been profiled enough. Clearly then we’re special because sweetmeat stall owner Ram Ashray Yadav agrees to talk to us. Yadav wheeled up his stall to ITO way back in 1989, and has been here ever since.
ITO’s Bahadur Zafar Marg has many street dogs, most of whom are pampered like children by journalists and street vendors alike.
Yadav, ever vigilant of his many demographics, also knows canine strictures, saying, “I never give the dogs anything that hasn’t been cooked in pure ghee. I know that sugar makes dogs shed their coats, but if it’s fortified by ghee, the oil content helps them maintain their hair.”
Perhaps this is because everything is homemade. “I make gulab jamun after I go home and soak them in chashni overnight. Halwa I make in the morning everyday,” Yadav confirms.
That’s not to say he’s immune to economic hurt. “After HDFC bank and major newspapers pulled their offices out of here, I saw a big drop in earnings, coming to around `1,200 a day. It’s had a major impact on my business,” he says, while acknowledging his collective experience hasn’t been too bad.
Father to two girls and two boys, Yadav isn’t forcing any of his kids to follow his footsteps. “My older son ran the stall when I was bedridden for eight months, after an accident. These days my younger son comes and helps occasionally. I work so that they can lead educated professional lives, but if one of them wants to take my place someday, who am I to stop them?”
Yadav has become more than a fixture, however. He’s a seasonal herald for many people in the media, all of whom know that when Yadav is selling kulfi, it is summertime, while gulab jamuns and gajar ka halwa mean winter.