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Phuchka in the time of flood

- Seller treats victims to snack

Balipota, Oct. 18: Flood has left them with a tangy taste in the mouth.

Flood victims in West Midnapore’s Daspur today gorged on phuchka, thanks to a seller who has taken shelter in a shed beside a Shiva temple in the area.

Manik Dolui, 52, treated around 120 of the 150 flood victims who have taken shelter in the shed and camps and roads in the neighbourhood to phuchkas this evening.

Dolui had got supplies to sell phuchka at a four-day fair that was supposed to begin in Daspur’s Balipota village today. But because of the floods, the fair was cancelled and Dolui decided to offload his stock of phuchkas and tamarind by distributing for free the snack among others who have been rendered homeless.

“Even those who have taken shelter on the high road or the flood shelter opened at a nearby primary school are welcome to have my phuchkas,” said Manik, who has four sacks of puffed crispies.

“I wait for the village fair every year as I earn around Rs 5,000 in the four days. But this year, it is a different story altogether,” Dolui said.

Manjushree Samad, 25, a homemaker from neighbouring Samat village who has taken shelter with five family members on the Deshpur-Narajole state highway, said: “All of us know Manik kaka because of his mouth-watering phuchkas.”

“We have lost our homes in the floods but Manik kaka’s offer has brought a smile to our faces,” Manjushree, the wife of a farmer, added.

Another flood victim, homemaker Putul Samad, who has taken shelter on the highway echoed Manjushree. “Phuchka is my favourite snack. But my husband does not let me have it too often because five phuchkas come at Rs 10. He does not allow me to have more than five phuchkas at a time,” said Putul, whose husband is a farmer.

Dolui said he had made the four sacks of phuchkas on October 13 and 14. “There are several thousand phuchkas. They will be distributed till stocks last,” he said.

“Most parts of our village got waterlogged in the rain and I thought the water would recede once the showers stopped. I had not bargained for a flood and so had made such a huge quantity of phuchkas. On the morning of October 15, the embankment of the Kangshabati breached and flood water gushed into our village and its neighbouring areas,” he said.

A Balipota resident who is putting up at the shed near the Shiva temple along with Dolui and his family said potatoes from the relief supply were boiled and drinking water supplied by the local panchayat was used to prepare the tamarind water.