For four months in a year,Ram Niwas and his family move to Delhi,where they make gajak
The sweet fragrance of gur (jaggery) simmering in a steel wok fills the room. Ram Niwas,60,patiently stirs the mixture of gur and water with a ladle,gradually adding til (sesame) seeds. For Niwas,getting the khasta gajak ready in time is a priority. People like this gajak a lot so it runs out of stock soon. I have to freshly prepare it twice a day to sustain the demand, he says,rolling up his sleeves and yelling out to one of his sons to prepare the aluminium tray to pour in the hot mixture.
A resident of Alirajpur district in Madhya Pradesh,Niwas lives in the Capital with his wife and six sons for four months in a year (October to January),selling gajak and other dry sweets made from jaggery. He has been doing this for the past 15 years.
Delhi offers a lot of scope for my business to thrive, he explains,weighing gajak for a customer. Niwas operates out of a one-room accommodation-cum-kitchen in Ashok Nagar,selling a variety of sweetskaaju waali gajak,pehni waali gajak,moongfali patta,and khasta waali gajak,among others.
Niwas smelled opportunity here when he came to visit his in-laws in the winter of 1993. I was not making much profit selling gajak in my village. So I thought this place would offer me a better source of income in the winter months, says Niwas,who sells fruits and vegetables in his home town the rest of the year.
He was 15 when he first saw a villager making gajak. It didnt take long for him to pick up the technique. At first it was difficult drawing customers,but later the business picked up, says Niwas.
His six childrenVinod,30,Manoj,25,Pawan,21,Satish,19,Kishen,17,and Jeetu,15have mastered the art of making gajak by observing their father. Father scolds me when I make a mistake but that is the only way I will learn, says Pawan,as the family prepares to head home by the end of the month.