Khaira: Many habitual pan chewers in Kupari area of Balasore have a favourite shop near local bus stand. The shop is run by one Jaga Bhai, as he is popularly known to his customers.
Kupari is a tourist place in north Odisha. Tourists visiting Kupari also throng his shop to have pan. His business usually witnesses a rise during Raja festival and Rath Yatra.
People from all walks of life make a beeline at his betel shop on a daily basis. “Pan-making continues throughout the day,” beamed Jaga Bhai.
Recalling his initial days of business, Jagabandhu Majhi said, “I have been running the betel business for the last 25 years.” Jagabandhu’s father Surendra Majhi used to work in the Water Resources department. Now, he is retired.
Jagabandhu studied up to Class VIII. Since he was not interested in studies, he dropped out in 1994. Then he started betel business at the bus stand. He admitted that initially he had problems, but later his business picked up. Now he keeps his shop open for nine to 10 hours daily.
“I sell five to six kada (one kada is a bunch comprising 20 betel leaves) of betels. Each betel leaf is sold for Rs 2.5,” he said. He “earns around Rs 400 daily,” on an average.
He has two sons and a daughter. With this earning, he said he finds it difficult to meet the cost of his children’s education.
“Kartik Purnima and Makar Sankranti are two major festivals in Kupari. During this time, business’ volume increases,” he said.
“No work is small or big; one has to eke out his living by doing some work,” he concluded.