Subscribe to our weekly newsletter


Septuagenarian curd seller Sameer Bhattacharjee is an inspiration for all: GB Exclusive interview

29 May, 2023 10:30:56
Septuagenarian curd seller Sameer Bhattacharjee is an inspiration for all: GB Exclusive interview

Remember Rabindranath Tagore’s short story ‘Dakghar,’ where Amal, the eight-year-old terminally ill protagonist is confined to his bed? His only contact with the outside world is through his window. From there he watches village life and engages in eager conversations with the passers-by from the vantage of his open window. His conversation with the dairyman passing by is a poignant tribute to the human spirit that gathers hope, even where there seems to be none. Amal says he wishes to be a sweet curd seller who will take his curd from the village by the red road, near the old banyan tree, hawking it from cottage to cottage. He is fascinated and says, “Oh, how do you cry, curd, curd, good nice curd!’ Teach me the tune, will you?” The dairyman is startled. At the end of the conversation, Amal asks the dairyman, “Say, have I kept you too long?” The dairyman confesses, “Not a bit; it has been no loss to me at all; you have taught me how to be happy selling curd.”

Life is what you make of it and septuagenarian Sameer Bhattacharjee is a prime example of being the one in full control of his life’s steering. This soft-spoken courteous gentleman sells 'doi' (curd). Yes, he gets up every morning and takes out his companion, a rickety bicycle from his home at Subhashgram in South 24 Parganas, and then with his day’s ware, leaves for the city. Soon, as the traffic increases on the roads, this ordinary-looking, frail gentleman becomes a part of the crowd and pedals for hours through lanes and by-lanes of the city, selling premier quality curd from Nabadweep in Nadia district which is renowned for its ‘Laal Kheer Doi’ (red creamy curd). He is a familiar sight for many homemakers who often beckon him to sit and rest for a while. Meanwhile, they buy curd from him. Those who have bought from him, never regret it. Bidisha Mukhopadhyay, a homemaker who lives in Baghbazar, was so happy with the product that she actually wrote a post on Facebook, sharing the story of Sameer Babu requesting all her acquaintances to try out the excellent ‘doi’ he sells.  

When GB contacted him for a chat, the unassuming gentleman was polite and very matter-of-fact about what he did. He said, “Ever since I can remember, I have always been very active. I cannot sit idle at home or waste time in useless conversations. I am always reminded of my advanced age by my sons and my well-wishers but for me, my age is just a number. I have always been fond of the outdoors and love travelling. As long as I am fit and fine, why should I not work? It is my work that keeps me occupied and happy. From an early age, I wanted to be an entrepreneur and be my own boss. Selling curd allows me to satiate my urge for travelling and exploring the city and do business on my own terms.” Well, that’s Sameer Babu for you, take him or leave him, but you cannot ignore him. 

Born in Subhashgram sometime around 1946-1947 (he cannot recollect the exact year), Sameer Babu was the third child among eight brothers and five sisters. The large family put a great deal of financial strain on his father, who was the sole earning member of the house. Sameer Babu realized early in life that he needed to do something and pitch in to help his father strengthen the economic condition of the family. “I could not continue my studies for long. I was fond of sports and loved football. I followed the game minutely and played reasonably well during my youth. I was no prodigy, but I did manage to rise through the ranks. Meanwhile, I did odd jobs now and then to make ends meet but despite my impeccable record in my workplace, the nature of my position was temporary and I would be rendered jobless quite often. During these phases, I used to run a small business from my home,” says Sameer Babu. 

He has two sons and both are well-established. His elder son works in the IT sector and is into data collection and his younger son works in a mid-level private company. But Sameer Babu is not one to sit on other people’s (not even his sons’) laurels and lead an easy and relaxed life. So, the new venture.

Talking about his wife, he says, “She is extremely unwell. She had a coronary artery bypass surgery which is an open-heart surgery and that has left her indisposed.” Sameer Babu continues his daily chores despite the vagaries of nature and the changing socio-cultural milieu. “Earlier, strangers were far more sensitive and came forward to help fellow citizens. When someone tried to do something constructive, others came forward to help and encourage him but now times have changed. Most people are running after material wealth and have become self-centered. Instead of extending a helping hand to the needy, they prefer to ignore and look the other way. But there are exceptions too. I do come across people who appreciate my hard work and try to reach out to help during crises and then some try to deceive me or jeer at me. But I am well past all that and really don’t take it to heart. It’s all in a day’s work and I take it in my stride,” trails off Sameer Babu’s voice. 

Do his sons support his venture? “Initially, when I started the business a year-and-a-half ago, they tried to desist me, but I was determined to carry on and they had to concede defeat before my stubbornness,” he says.

Sameer Babu sells high-quality ‘Laal Doi’ (sweet red curd), a specialty of Nabadweep and he has a devout clientele base who swear by his product and the number is rising steadily. Does he travel to Nadia daily to collect it from there? “No. The curd is brought from Nabadweep every day and I collect it from the center and sell it. The gentleman who prepares the product is a very experienced and deft sweetmeat maker and he uses superior-quality raw materials to make the curd genuinely palatable. But he does not have the manpower to carry on the distribution and sales in the city. I, for one, am very serious about the quality of the product I sell, and going by the rising popularity of the curd among my buyers, I believe, I have succeeded in building a firm base for ‘Nabadweeper Laal Doi.’ It is also indicative of the rise of sale of this ‘doi’ and many more entrepreneurs will probably crowd here to sell this curd. In the long run, it may be that I will be pushed out of this business by other competitors. But I am prepared for all exigencies. I am not greedy and do not run after money. So, I am mentally prepared for all ups and downs, be it in my life or my business, which is all very normal in life.” 

With these words, he signed off. Truly, he is an inspiration for all. 

Leave a Comments

Related Post