Nadiad Spices, The Mom-and-Pop Way

Nov 8, 2005

He used to sell turmeric, hot peppers, cumin seeds and other spices that are so prevalent in Indian cooking. In the small city of Nadiad, Krishnakant's shop was one of the few mom-and-pop grocery stores that survived several generations.

Today, after many years, I visited the place. Krishnakant-bhai, a relative of my mom's, passed away several years ago as his two jovial sons, Bholo and Munno, took over the operations.

It's a humble shop -- 100 grams of salt for one customer and 30 rupees of spicy masala for another customer. Bit by bit, they make enough money to shoulder their responsibilities. "Now-a-days, the competition is really fierce around here," Bholo explains with his eyes downcast. "In this small city of Nadiad, there are almost 800 shops just like ours. To top it off, Adani's came in last year and is creating this 'shopping mall' mentality; everyone just goes to the big stores now. And next year, Shopping Bazaar and Star Shoppe are also coming to town. Let's see what happens."

The real story of this small mom-and-pop store, though, is the pop. Prior to Krishnakant-bhai's death, not many understood his spirit of business.

Because he was irrationally generous towards needy customers, he would refuse to tally up his daily finances. People said he was naive. Because he didn't engage in greed-fights with neighboring businesses, he never posted exuberant profits. People said he had no ambition. Because he drew satisfaction from making each customer smile, he would always go the extra mile and stuff more spices into each order. People said he was ignorant in the ways of business. Maybe people were right, but that wasn't Krishnakant-bhai's concern. "My Dad," Bholo recalls with silent pride, "he gave everything to everyone, but still, he never ran out of money. That was God's gift to him. He always had enough."

Not only did Krishnakant-bhai never run out, his cup is now overflowing into the lives of their children.

"Almost every day, still after over two years of his death, one or two people will come and share stories about our Dad," Mrugesh says.

"Just yesterday," Bholo continues, "a banana seller came to our store. When he learned that my Dad had passed away, he told me the story of their one and only encounter. Years ago, it seems that Dad was walking down the streets and saw this fruit vendor with a depressed face. He greets him kindly and asks, 'What's wrong? Why aren't you smiling today?' The vendor honestly admits, 'Sir, I haven't had any earning today. I don't know what I'll take home for my family tonight.' Immediately Dad takes out a hundred rupee note and gives it to him. Just like that."

"That vendor, he just found out today that my father has passed away."

Krishnakant-bhai's sons, they're just finding out that their Dad was dealing in a currency far higher than money and spices. His currency was love.

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"Service doesn't start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take."

"Real privilege lies in knowing that you have enough."