Friday, August 3, 2018

The Best Feedback!

Last month, I finally set up a food stall in the local mela. I had been dreaming of doing this for a long time, but never had the energy or the time to carry the idea through. But this post is not about me or the reaction of my customers. It is about Aloka and her customers!

Aloka is a budding chef, trying out new recipes and experimenting with ingredients in her free time, which is a lot since she started home schooling last year. As expected, not all experiments have been successful, but we have still enjoyed her creations.

Sometime last year, I chanced upon some cute looking almond chocolates in the fridge. They were yummy. I was amazed to find out that Aloka had made them, all by herself, without even my knowledge! She had used her knowledge of making chocolate ganache and devised her own technique of adding almonds to them. For molds, she had used the IKEA silicone ice cube trays we had purchased many years ago when we used to live in Singapore.

So, when we set up the food stall in the mela, I asked her to sell her chocolates too. She was strangely reluctant, but I was equally strangely pushy. So, while I prepared chicken schnitzels and buttered potatoes on the day of the fair, she made some 50 flower- and fish-shaped chocolate treats. She was shy about going around selling her wares, but agreed to try to sell them to any customer that came to our stall. The chocolates were priced at Rs 5 apiece, which would fetch her a small profit. She slung a bag with some change in it (all Rs 10 notes) and held her box of chocolates in her hands.

The fair was a madhouse and I had no time to look up to see how Aloka was doing. She first came to me some 20-minutes into the sale with a worried expression on her face. "This boy wants a chocolate", she whispered, "but he says he has only Rs 2." I turned around to see a young balloon-seller, perhaps 12, dressed in a vest and shorts, looking expectantly at me. I told Aloka to sell him one chocolate for the money he had.

A half hour later, Aloka was again by my side, asking for change for Rs 100. "The boy wants two chocolates, but I don't have enough change", she said. Once again, I turned around to see the same boy, the balloon-seller, this time holding a 100-rupee note. He was back, ready to pay the right price for the treat, which meant that he had sold quite a few balloons by then. I dug into my purse and handed Aloka Rs 90 to pay him. He left happily with his purchase.

By now, we were selling out fast. So was Aloka. She had two chocolates left by the time I was sold out. I smiled at her, and hoped to grab at least one of her chocolates, when lo and behold, the same balloon-seller was by our side again, this time with a younger friend. He held out his 10-rupee note to Aloka, and bought her last two chocolates. The two kids grinned and sucked on their fish-shaped treats while walking away.

That evening, various people had bought Aloka's chocolates. Some were people who knew me and perhaps felt compelled to buy from Aloka. Others were strangers, but were sort of captive audience because they were sitting down to eat food at our table. Hard to say no to a child selling chocolates in such circumstances too.

But here was a boy, who wasn't at the fair to spend his parent's money, but to earn his own. This boy chose to spend his hard-earned money to buy Aloka's chocolates. Not once, but three times!

What a compliment!

Could there be better feedback? I don't think so.