From 'Samosa Ajja' to 'Anna' of Mangalore

Florine Roche
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore

Mangalore, Dec 27: For over 30 years (the figure varies) Samosa Ajja, who has been selling samosa to primary, High school and College students of St Aloysius schools and college was given this name by the students as he was selling piping hot samosas for the hungry students. He has been a ubiquitous figure in School and college premises of this particular college for more than 2 ½ decades and many students of St Aloysius school/College must be fondly remembering this old man who regularly satiated the taste buds of the youngsters with those delectable samosas.

Now, at 78 (on his own account) Mudukeshwar Mudeyappa Malagi who is still a regular at the college premises, is called as “Anna Ajja” by the students due to his uncanny resemblance to the original national hero Anna Hazare, who, as we know has become a national phenomenon in the country and the biggest head ache to the ruling government, since the last one year. His Gandhi cap, spectacles and the white jubba-dhoti makes him the student’s Anna Hazare. Samosa Ajja is rather bemused by the changed soubriquet but is not overwhelmed or perturbed. He wants to target the students to sell his samosas, chikkis, peanuts, burfis and jilibies and the students swarm around him especially during lunch hour and after the school/college hours.

School and college going students may miss classes but M M Malagi is a regular who positions himself in the most noticeable and favorable position where students of both high school and college can easily reach out to him. With his two bags filled with goodies and his Gandhi cap he is instantly visible to the students who come searching for him. After all where can they get two samosas for Rs. 5/- at the rate of Rs. 2.50 paisa per samosa in Mangalore? Students find in him their savior, the one who gratifies their hunger or their craving for junk food. One could see high school students coming with Rs. 5/- and going away with chikki, burfi and jilebi each for three rupees and still managed to get back Rs. 2/- from ajja.

M M Malagi comes from Kavoor and goes to the market to buy his other junk items. He comes to college campus at around 9.30 am. He has a foldable plastic table to keep his bags and a stool to sit, waiting for his customers in students. He is permitted to keep his belongings inside the college building by the school management. Once he arrives at the campus he returns only at 4 pm after the students return from school. It is commendable to note the unwavering energy of the man who never thinks of retiring. “I do it for my living”, he says with his eyes constantly trying to locate his customers from among student groups.

M M Malagi came to Mangalore from Badami Taluk 30 years back. “My nephew had got a job in the harbor and we came to Mangalore”, he stated to a question what made him come to Mangalore. Soon after his arrival here he started this business of selling samosas to start with and slowly included other junkies for which students have an appetite for. He is able to make a business of Rs. 500/- to Rs. 600/- every day and take care of his family of 4 children and a wife. His children are grown and are earning but for Malagi the thought of retirement is an anathema.

While his zeal to work and earn his living is commendable it is to be noted that he sells samosas in unhygienic conditions. The plastic he uses to store the hot samosas is not of food grade quality. Nitin a 9th standard student who was savoring a samosa at 12.30 pm during the lunch break says it was hot. So, one can imagine how hot they might be at 10 am when they are put in the polythene bags.

He also distributes the samosas with his bare hand, in which he also collects the sweat-soaked coins and notes. He is not revealing all details but says he gets the samosas from people who prepare them regularly for him. It is an open secret that he has been able to sell samosas at low prices because of the usage of recycled oil to fry samosas by the manufacturers. Even the carry bags in which the samosas are kept look unclean and overused.

Shilpa a plus student of the college says she gets diarrhea if she eats these samosas as they contain lot of oil. But there are many other students who have no complaints and have developed a kind of habit to eat them. What is baffling is that some students are Ajja’s regular customers for samosa as they are addicted to it and it is sure to have a deleterious impact on their health in the long run.

If Samosa Ajja or our own Anna Ajja pays attention to these details he would do a great service to the student community. I wonder why school/college management failed to draw his attention to the need to maintain cleanliness.