Savita and her husband migrated from Tumkur 12 years ago, to work in a garment factory in Peenya, in the same area where they now run a meals’ cart. Savita started the business by offering packed lunches to a few of her friends in the factory.
As the number of people who bought her tiffin increased, the factory manager offered her a space right outside the factory to set up a meal cart. In the mornings they sell puri, idli, dosa, pulao, bonda; in the afternoons chapati, anna-sambar and ragi mudde and at night only anna-sambhar.
Due to Peenya’s industrial setup, it is likely that food vendors have previously worked in its factories and manufacturing units. Like Savita, about 35% of the vendors in our sample had previously worked in the textile and garment industry before setting up their own food business.
Once their meals business was established, they ran into some trouble with the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) and were moved right outside a silk warehouse, to an area that functioned as a common dumping ground for factory waste. Savita and her husband cleaned up the area, in the hope that once it was clean, it would be theirs to set up their cart. As this space was privately owned by the factory, the BBMP could not threaten to move them and soon they acquired a food license.
Since the warehouse stored silk garments, they were not allowed to light a fire near the premises so they rented a separate space to cook and get the food transported by an auto. They feed most of the workers from the neighbouring factories along with the security staff, bus drivers and conductors. Today, their enterprise has four employees who also used to work in factories.
In our study, we find that meal carts are dominant in the industrial areas of the city, like Peenya, BEL Grounds and Whitefield. This might be due to the large customer base of workers from the factories and manufacturing companies that are consistent across these neighbourhoods.