| Schoolchildren savour momos, ice cream and chaat in front of a school in Patna. Pictures by Ashok Sinha |
Parents have a seasonal enemy to deal with every monsoon — roadside food stalls near school campuses.
As soon as the recess bell rings, students make a beeline at the food stalls of momos, papdi chaat, pani puri, ice-cream and golas outside the school campus.
Most city schools have reopened and so have the food stalls around the campus. The food stalls are the hotspot for students to hang out with friends and share the spicy delicacies.
But the delicacies are prepared from water that are often left open under the sun and rain water accumulate in it. There’s complete lack of hygiene when it comes to preparing the roadside food.
However, they tickle the little ones’ taste buds and unknowingly they indulge in having roadside food almost everyday.
Aditya Anand, a Class IX student of DAV BSEB, said: “I love momos. How can anyone not like them? They are super yummy, especially when they are deep fried and served with Chinese chilli sauce.”
He added: “Momos resemble Chinese dumplings. I had tried for the first time a year back. Since then, it’s my favourite food. I have tasted momos of most of the places in Patna. But the best one is of Maurya Lok.”
Ishan Goyal, a Class IV student of St Xavier’s High school, said he loves momos so much that he can’t imagine a day without not having it.
“Non-vegetarian momos are my favourite. I usually eat after my classes are over. Momos sell the most near my school because it is easy to eat and also filling,” said Goyal.
However, when compared with momos and pani puri, the former stands a distant second in the race to tickle taste buds.
“It is tangy, spicy and tongue tickling. It’s real fun to roam around after the classes get over and taste different kinds of street food outside the campus. But nothing satisfies me more than pani puri. My mother tells me not to eat it but I cannot resist,” said Raunak Kumar, a Class VIII student of Loyola High School.
During a rainy day, hot samosas and finger-licking chaats, too, are favourites among school kids.
“I usually hang out with my friends after school and eat samosas and chaat but the school administration asked all the stall owners to remove their stands near the campus. Now, we walk some distance to enjoy the food of our choice,” said Ipshita Das, a Class XI student of St Joseph’s Convent School.
According to the children, nothing can beat the heat better than golas and ice-creams that every sweet tooth savours. Ice golas of different shapes and colours entice kids.
Don Bosco Academy student Najaf Abbas Jafri said: “Orange, lemon and kala katha are my favourite ice golas. I have it every day on my way home from school. But sometimes, my mother doesn’t allow me and says they are unhygienic. She then asks me to have ice-creams. But I like golas more.”
Parents are worried of this eating habit of their kids. Most believe that the stall foods are unhygienic and will have ill-effect on their children’s health.
Najaf’s mother said: “My son often complains about stomach aches and I think it is because of street food. The water they use in golas is contaminated and carries water-borne diseases. I’m not in favour of eating out during monsoon.”
Anju Devi, whose nephew Ritu Raj studies in Rose Public School, said: “Ritu recently complained of stomach ache and nausea. He also had mild fever. We consulted our family doctor and after check-up, he was diagnosed with jaundice and was prescribed medicines, home-cooked food and bed rest. He missed nearly 45 days of school.”
Dr Arun Kumar Thakur, a paediatrician and president of Indian Medical Association, said: “Parents often visit me with children’s health problems that are caused because of bad eating habits. Poor eating habits often cause obesity in children can lead to a lifetime of serious health problems, including heart and liver ailments, hepatitis, high blood pressure and diabetes.”
Gastroenterologist Ajit Kumar Sinha said food sold on stalls near schools is generally contaminated with dust and bacteria because the owners cook in the open.
“Children often are brought to me with stomach infection. Food poisoning and diarrhoea are common symptoms during monsoon,” Sinha said.