Saturday, May 14, 2011

Great Sales People on the Kandy Colombo Train

The train journey from Kandy to Colombo is fascinating. I have taken this journey countless number of times but it never fails to impress. The stretch from Fort to Kandy takes you through different landscapes. I have already written a blog about the landscapes and the surroundings click here to read it. The focus of this post is not on the surrounding but on three sales people who impressed me. They are ordinary people exhibiting some strange qualities as per our usual standards.

Train winding through Kadugannwa

The vadai seller

Apparently he has been selling vadai (an indian short eat) in the train for the last 8 years. He is a stylish act, the way he handles the vadai impresses everyone. He first takes a piece of paper and places it nicely in his left hand ,   he uses the tong and picks the vadai with it and embeds it in the paper on the left hand. Then picks the knife and slices the vadai into two. Then he picks the spoon and applies the chillie paste. All this is done with style and grace. Each vadai is prepared in this way and then given to the customer. It has become the most sort after eatery in the train, I know people who have his mobile number and give him a call and inform the compartment they are in, because they do not want to take the risk of not getting a vadai because he runs out of stock very often.

This mans craft has not only charmed the locals but also the foreigners, who make it a point to taste his 20/= vadai. The best part came last Friday, he walked into the compartment, there was a large family travelling in it. I think they were either first time train travelers or one off travelers. Obviously they were not interested in buying from him, since they didn't know how it would taste and very easily he could have also walked away not worrying about them since it doesn't take rocket science to figure out that he can finish his days stock whether this family buys or not. This brought out the shrewed businessmen in him, he made an offer to one of the family member to try his vadai for free! Within the next 15 minutes I saw the family pay him for that vadai and also buying 7 more from him. I was left amazed and was wondering man didn't he do a (W)hoAreWee.


The kadala seller

The second sales person is a very old person who sells grams, peanuts and other bean packets. He is very chirpy when it comes to selling. One day he showed of his English skill to a group of foreigners. His punch line to sell packets was "Pick One Any One!". Later on I got to know he is a very knowledgeable man, who does this in his old age while being in retirement from a government job.

Train canteen

3rd guy is the guy who runs the canteen in the intercity train, he goes around distributing food items and strangely he is not interested in collecting money immediately. In a nation where, people normally take the money before giving a good, this behavior was very strange to me. After an hour or so he comes around and people call him and pay him the money. I was told that when he is out of change, he refuses to take the excessive money from the passenger and tells the passenger its easier for you to remember me, than for me to remember whom I owe money to, so you may give the balance next time you travel. He plays into the conscience of people and strangely he creates a culture where people make sure that they find him and make the payment for what ever they eat!

Irrespective of the scale you are doing in, Sales is a unique art and not everyone can do it. You should have the skill in you to do it and I guess its a skill you should be born with. If I was in their positions I am sure I would have just walked away not trying to sell the new family and also would have made sure I collect the money before I give the food. But these men think differently and become successful in their own right.



  1. And you had to remind me of those vadai? Idiot.

    On a serious note, yeah I still remember the good old days where number of us used to travel in the same train. Also, there is an elderly woman who sell string hoppers, do you remember? Is she still around too?

    Those were the days man.

  2. Sayya,
    Friday train journey from Colombo to Kandy the 4.55 p.m office train, thats hell of a journey as the train packed with people from Kurunegala who get down at Rambukkana. In that train after you pass Polgahawala an Aachi comes with Helapa...! you know Helepa...that was so tasty ...!! I eagerly wait to taste that every Friday !! May be you are frequent intercity traveler you may missed her ...!! The Helapa Aachi....!!

  3. haha @Riyazi, I know Helapa achchi but haven't seen her in the 5.45 train recently.

    @Sach thats the main intention of this
    I think there was a time in which we had about 5 to 8 of our guys in the train. Its always fun!

    Yes the string hopper lady still comes to the morning train.

  4. Nice one Sayya....I'm actually planning to go from Colombo to Badulla this time.. always wanted to that..Never had time.

    There was a hopper guy coming to the Kandy - Matara train, getting up from Kadigamuwa I always used to have them... Kandy-Matara train always have more vendors than the intercity ... You'll find a lot of Peanut vendors getting on to this one at Ahangama ... Oh man they are the best ...

    About wadai... Isso wadai with onion ring and chile pieces are the best...yum..yum....

  5. haha Ishi thanks..I am doing the badulla train trip this Friday!