Bhagwati Yadav, a street-side vendor selling pani puris in south Mumbai’s Napean Sea Road for nearly 46 years, died of COVID-19 around a month ago. His death, however, came to light recently when residents of the area started a fundraising campaign to help the family of their beloved pani puri wala.
Mr Yadav was famously known as “Bisleri pani puri wala” in and around south Mumbai as he used to use bottled water for preparing the popular snack.
“For 46 years, Yadavji always put our health first by serving “Bisleri” pani puri. And his generosity knew no bounds as he would never shy away from handing out “Ek extra puri,” a statement on the crowdsourcing platform Ketto read.
The fundraising drive, aimed at collecting Rs five lakh in 42 days, has already received more than Rs two lakh in two days.
“He was the sole earner in his house. We are in touch with his daughter.We felt like helping his family, so we didn’t think much and posted an appeal on a crowdfunding website. We have received Rs two lakh donation in just two days,” said Yash Baid, a resident of Napean Sea Road.
Mr Yadav’s concern for hygiene and authenticity set him apart from other street-side vendors.
“The taste (of the puris he used to sell) was very good. He used to prepare everything at home. Nowadays, people use mixers but he used to make it on his own,” said one of Mr Yadav’s patrons.
“His behavior was very good. I have been eating his pani puris since I was 10. I am 25 years old now. But, the taste of the panipuris remained the same,” said another.
Bhagwati Yadav’s daughter, who is at present in their native village in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh with her mother, said she was overwhelmed to see people’s love for her father.
“Several of his customers have come forward to help us. Especially Girish Agarwal sir, who started the initiative on the crowdsourcing platform, has helped us a lot,” she said.