Pan Dukan Eney

Consumption of pan is literally banned in Manipur but no one stops consuming it. Some do have a craze for a single kwa matap right at the start of the day. With a couple of elaichi pieces or katha, with a long maru or yubi ataoba, a matap of ek soh beesh or saat is unavoidable for many of us. Age or gender is not a criterion for anyone to get used to a kwa matap. So mou naha or leisabi, pakhang or hanuba, a kwa matap is meant for all and sundry.

It is nothing misleading to claim that the Pan Dukan and Manipuris have an unbreakable relationship since time immemorial. A pan dukan is a landmark for many new visitors to a leikai; it is one of the favourite joints for the folks who would catch up during many a load-shedding evening over several conical ‘kwa matap’; and it is also a place where a ‘nupi lumba laakpa pakhang’ spends time waiting for his sweetheart to turn up.

‘Jarda matap ama chadradi kok kasi chik-ee da, Ebemma’, I have many ‘local’ aunts repeatedly telling me like this. Most of these aunts prefer the saat or beesh matap to any other sumptuous treat of snacks at a local eating outlet or tea stalls. With just a single kwa matap treat, you get all the blessings under the sun from them. I have personally got some heart throbbing blessings from some of them, such as ‘Nungsine echanupisi, maram na mok ee ba masakna fajariba, nupa afaba fang u ko’. I could not help but grin over their funny approbations.

Running a pan shop is a means of livelihood for many families too. And for a few, it is just an extra means of earning income or to remain occupied with something beneficial. I do not envy those pan dukans run by a Khura but I sure do envy the one run by an Eney. A pan dukan eney is usually a cordial woman with an attractive charisma. She is a friend for everyone. A little talkative perhaps she might be, but there is no question over her affability. She has this down-to-earth attitude along with a great sense of humour that attracts many customers. There are many pan dukan in a leikai but all of them are not frequently visited by customers for obvious reasons. Everyone loves to visit that particular eney’s pan dukan, that eney who is friendly and fun to be with.

Come numidangwairam, the most famous pan dukan of every leikai is swarmed by customers from every nook and corner of Imphal town. Vehicles are parked and it is quite a sight for onlookers to watch those well-dressed and also those haapoo-chuba types of guys loitering around the pan dukan, indulging in chit-chats with their buddies over various kwa mataps. The topic of discussion could be anything. It could be the same old discussion on the issues of Manipur, it could be a business plan and it could also be an elopement plan for one from among the group. Just the right time for the best sparkling ideas to horde their mind, they have an unbeatably good time around the very pan dukan. For a busy Eney it is the prime time to sell as many chewing gum packets and kwa mayoms as she can.

For a drunk Gorojaoba or Tomba, the pan dukan is again one of the places in the leikai where he can yell out his grievances till his wife or mom shows him the homeward road. Eney doesn’t mind all his classic nonsense. She has ears for all.

It is indeed fun to befriend a pan dukan eney. You never know how time passes away while indulging in an interesting conversation with her. You can share so many things with her that you cannot even share to your siblings or parents. You would most often find a friend in her irrespective of the age gap. She keenly listens to your problem (if any) and sometimes comes up with amazing solutions you have never thought about. You can have an open talk with her without any regret. She always creates a pleasant aura around her shop with a smiley face greeting everyone in an amiable manner.One of the differentiating traits of an ideal pan dukan eney is that she never puts up a notice board near her dukan which reads ‘BAAKI TOUJADEY’. It’s really odd to come across those shops with such a notice right? Whatsoever, it does not mean ‘Sotlaga chaba’ is also encouraging.

The reason of addiction could be anything for anyone but it is a much observed trend that consuming kwa is quite a nisha for many in our very localities. Some are really addictive to it; some have a check on its consumption. As for me, I would not mind being considered as a kwa-matap ambassador and my heart goes out to every pan dukangi eney and her kwa matap.

Statutory warning - Consuming tobacco in any of its forms is hazardous for health… who cares? ‘Eney katha teidaba sada matap amata somda’

This article was published on 26 Feb 2012
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