As Kerala hotels down shutters, roadside joints make a killing

Thiruvananthapuram, April 29 (IANS) As more than 20,000 members of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) downed shutters Monday in response to a nationwide strike call, wayside eateries were making a killing, seeing roaring sales.

The all-India strike by hoteliers and restaurateurs protesting a new service tax, being implemented from April 1, saw wide participation.

The tax applies to hotels and restaurants that are either fully or partially air-conditioned.

State president of KHRA G. Sudheesh Kumar said the strike was total. “At some places, a few of our members did open, but we were able to persuade them to close after telling them about the rationale behind the strike. We will, of course, take a lenient view of members who operate in front of hospitals and medical colleges,” Kumar told IANS.

Wayside eateries, popularly called “thattu kada” in Kerala, which dot the state’s roads, saw the ranks of their patrons suddenly swell Monday.

“Yes, we’ve got extra batter for today (Monday). We ran out quite early of what we had brought, which is usually sufficient for the entire day. So my husband rushed home to make more. We know, today is our day,” said a woman running a “thattu kada” that sells dosas in the heart of the capital city.

In Kerala, the most sought-after food-item at any time of day or night and across class or social status is the dosa, which is usually quite small, the size of a pappad. Along with the dosa come steaming hot rasam and a vada, besides the traditional chutneys and a crispy pappad. An omelette is served too, besides a cup of coffee or tea. The meal typically costs Rs.25 at a “thattu kada”.

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