“I felt very hurt, very upset,” says Prem. But he could do nothing, except bide his time. Prem’s luck turned when a new restaurant called Prem Sagar opened next door. Here, he was offered the job of a ‘tea boy’. Now why is a tea boy better off than a dishwasher? Because, baahar chai lekar jaana fetches you a commission of 10%, and a chance to build ‘clients’. Human relationships which can take you - who knows where? Prem Ganapathy was a natural. While the other tea boys did a business of T 300 per day at best, he would routinely manage to net a thousand. What was the secret?
“See… I had good relations with everyone. Next door we had the Tamil Nadu Mercantile Bank. People used to phone and ask for me, by name.” “I greeted everyone cheerfully, made small talk. And my service was very good. I knew which person likes his tea in a particular way. What time he wants it. And whether he will want a soft drink with his lunch. I studied all that.” “Kyunki poora market mein, sabko alag alag taste rehta hai. Toh main unke hisaab se achha service dene ki koshish kiya taaki mera naam ho.” “Mera dukaan sab jagah kholne ka tha mujhe. Fast jaane ka tha.” Whether you are selling tea or servicing a Fortune 500 client - the principle is the same. Always! Soon Prem was earning T 100 per day - boarding and lodging was free. But there was more to come. One of his customers at the bank, a Tamilian gentleman, made an offer. He wanted to set up a tea shop in Vashi’s Sector 3-4 market. He would invest the money and Prem would run the business - as a 50:50 partner. Prem Ganapathy agreed - happily. The chai ki dukaan was set up in the back portion of a kirana shop. From day one, the shop started doing brisk business. After a couple of months, the investor got greedy. Profits were touching T 8000-10,000 per month. Why give away 50% of that? “Mujhe nikal diya aur salary par kisi ko rakh liya. ” Prem Ganapathy - clean bowled. Back to the pavilion! The year was 1992. Prem went to his village for a vacation, and came back to Mumbai with a small loan from an uncle, and a younger brother
in tow. With a capital of some twenty thousand, Prem Ganapathy set up a roadside stall of his own. Business was good, but the neighbouring housing society was making life difficult. Tired of the daily ‘kit-kit’, Prem bought a haathgaadi and set up shop near the bus depot. That venture too was short lived. But call it ‘never say die’, or no option but to get up and keep walking. Soon enough Prem found another spot, this time in Vashi’s Sector 17, and set up a ‘South Indian’ stall. He did not know a thing about making either idlis or dosas. The batter he procured from the homes of South Indians living next door; the cooking he learnt by observation, trial and error.
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- Spring '16
- ian van
- English, Prem Ganapathy, Dosa, Dosa Plaza, Prem