So it is 23rd of January. The city is relaxed, it’s a holiday, the streets are empty and people are chilling at home, some more patriotic para folks hosting a function on Netaji. But that’s not the case at 158 Bidhan Sarani. There’s a long queue of at least 500 people there.
Why were these people there? Mr Das was queuing up with his family on a day-off winter morning, so was old Mr Saha tightly clenching the hand of his granddaughter. Wait a minute, Mrs Mitra’s maid was in the line too with her son and Poltu, the para troublemaker could be seen up ahead with his friends, they too, surprisingly disciplined into the queue.
So what was all the hullabaloo about? Well, they were all queuing up outside Lakshmi Narayan Shaw & Sons, the 97 year old sweet shop opposite Sottish Church School for their favourite tele e bhaja, but today, absolutely FREE OF COST FOR ALL!
HOW IT BEGAN
In the pre-independence days, Khedu Shaw, the then proprietor of the family-run shop used to supply snacks for all the meetings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with his group of freedom fighters.
From 1942 Khedu Shaw began secretly distributing snacks and fries to all his friends and family for free on 23rd January.
From 1964 onwards, he began publicly distributing his everyday snacks and fries for free from his shop.
WHAT HAPPENS TODAY
The noble gesture has been passed down 4 generations now and even today, every 23rd of January sees an array of people, wealthy, poor, from the locality or from the outskirts line up to honour this noble cause.
Just yesterday, 4000 people had come down to the shop from far and wide to celebrate the day together.
THE WAY FORWARD
Class 12 student Sudhansu Gupta who was busy coordinating the supply is already all set to take the annual noble event to a larger scale. He wants more people to explore the lesser known aspects of the city and be able to serve more people each year.
So if it is the legendary Aloo chop, phuluri or beguni that you crave, you know where to head to!